By: Khola Raja
Assistant Professor University of Azad Jammu and Kasmir, Dr. Rukhsana Khan has said that Prime Minster of Pakistan Imran Khan has conferred a huge task of cross-LoC heritage tourism initiative to PTI MNA Dr. Ramesh Kumar Vankwani who recently visited Sharda to check the feasibility of the initiative. The initiative includes opening Sharda Peeth and other spiritual sites for Kashmiri origin Hindu Pandits and Muslims on both sides of LoC who want to visit shrines and their Holy places on either side of LoC, Dr. Khan told this correspondent after meeting with Dr. Vankwani and his delegation in before their departure for Sharda. According to Dr Khan, she was approached by the delegation of Pakistan Hindu Council and Evacuee Trust Property Board Government of Pakistan to take her input on various aspects of Sharda Peeth and other archaeological sites in AJ& K.
Delegation headed by Dr. Vankwani, who is also Patron in Chief of Pakistan Hindu Council, wanted to know the historical background, state of preservation, and aspects effecting the opening of Sharda and associated sites for heritage tourism. It is pertinent to mention here that Dr. Khan has extensively worked on heritage in conflict areas in Kashmir and its utilization for peace building. Moreover, Dr. Khan emphasized that earlier initiatives of trade and travel across the LoC have been suspended, and in these circumstances the prospects for cross LoC heritage tourism will remain fragile until the earlier peace initiatives are resumed and further strengthened. She said Sharda Peeth opening initiative must include broader and inclusive approach. PM AJ&K, and other stake holders must be taken on board and all communities, Pundits and Muslims across the LoC must be allowed to visit their respective revered sites in such heritage tourism initiatives.