The Pakistan-China Friendship Centre wore a festive look Monday evening, as a two-day cultural event/exhibition titled ‘Salam Confucius’ — part of the celebration marking 2015 as the ‘Year of Pakistan-China Cultural Contact’ — took place within its precincts.
Dozens of cute, cartoon character plastic replicas of Confucius greeted visitors — brought all the way from China; colourful, red, white and green gas balloons had been attached to their hats or hands and lively music filled the air. Inside, the exhibition included paintings of Confucius done by local artists, some depicting him with a turban on his head!
Organised by the Pakistan-China Institute in collaboration with China’s Tsinghua University and the Bolin Cultural Group, the whole day event featured a discussion; the inauguration of the exhibition; a cultural show and dinner in honour of president, Bolin Cultural Group, Lin Youwu. Minister for Information and Broadcasting, also holding the portfolio of Culture, Pervaiz Rashid was the guest of honour at the inauguration while two young people of the institute were the MC’s for the evening.
Chairman Senate Defence Committee and Chairman Pakistan-China Institute, Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed welcomed the speakers on stage, as well as the other guests and said this cultural event was the first step in bringing peoples of the two countries closer since the ‘cultural corridor’ was as important as the CPEC in creating understanding and goodwill among people.
He went on to say that it had been decided that the celebrations should start with Confucius because he gave a vision to his people some 2,500 years ago. “Confucius had great impact on most Asian civilizations,” he said. “We have learned much from his philosophy. This exhibition is a reminder of his great contribution to mankind.”
The guest of honour said relations between the two countries had strengthened in different areas and cultural relations are very important because they bring two nations closer.
Speaking on the occasion, acting Chinese Ambassador Zhao Lijian said China has promoted Confucius institutes and classes all over the world, while in Pakistan there are three — in Islamabad, Faisalabad and Karachi. “Confucius was a world famous philosopher whose teachings set education standards and similar institutes will be opened in other cities so more students can benefit from his wisdom.”
Soft spoken Prof Li Xiguang, from Tsinghua University — his personality somehow bringing Confucius to mind — said some students from Pakistan were studying in his university but he was trying to increase their number. “I have visited Pakistan many times,” he said. “I have travelled by road on the old Silk Route, which was used for centuries for cross trading between our two countries. I saw Chinese inscriptions on Hunza rocks and in the Peshawar Museum and this will be fascinating for our artists.”
President Bolin Cultural Group, Lin Youwu spoke of diplomatic and bilateral relations between the two countries and the important part understanding each other’s culture plays in these relations.
A lively performance by Khumarian, the popular Swat based music group, followed and this was well received especially by the younger crowd, after which dinner was served in the upper hall of the imposing centre. Before going up, we walked outside to see lanterns being let into the night sky, which was exciting for the crowds who had collected outside the building — men, women and children — to make the most of this rare opportunity to spend a pleasant evening in a festive atmosphere. Also, the public was still ‘high’ on the spirit of celebration from a day earlier — Defence Day — and this was the best way to ‘wind down,’ as they say for those who were present.