ISLAMABAD - Consequent upon approval of the Prime Minister of Pakistan to organise a “Pakistan Week” at the federal capital Islamabad, Ministry of National Heritage & Integration in collaboration with Lok Virsa (National Institute of Folk & Traditional Heritage) Sunday started a weeklong celebrations on Sunday. The opening ceremony was held here at Lok Virsa Complex, Shakarparian and performed by Federal Minister for National Heritage & Integration Samina Khalid Ghurki as chief guest. Secretary National Heritage Asaf Ghafoor was also present on the occasion. While inaugurating Pakistan Week Celebrations, the Minister National Heritage said, “No nation can thrive without culture, preserving and strengthening the cultural heritage is important for development and for promoting national unity and tolerance. The government of Pakistan Peoples Party is cognizant of the importance to promote and safeguard Pakistan’s rich cultural identity because we understand that the country at present needs to be united and re-introduced as a nation rich in heritage, blessed with harmony, accommodating many cultures. To showcase to the world the true peaceful and harmonious face of Pakistan, we need to unite ourselves. This was the reason that Prime Minister has been pleased to approve the proposal for holding Pakistan Week as major national event at the federal capitalwhich, I am convinced, will attract full attention of the people from all walks of life”, Minister added. The Minister further said “Actually, the present initiative aims to involve the masses in a campaign which can touch their hearts through projection of their cultures and heritage. It will leave a positive impact on the audiences while enjoying and celebrating their beautiful cultural heritage. This celebration would therefore serve as a unique opportunity to propagate the message of UNITY among all Pakistanis”. Speaking on the occasion, Federal Secretary National Heritage Asaf Ghafoor said “the event aims to integrate Pakistan’s rich culture and heritage in the masses not only to treasure our national heritage and to save it for our future generations but also to project real face of Pakistan across the border while giving a message of peace, unity and harmony”. The secretary assured full cooperation from his ministry and Lok Virsa management for the successful holding of the week long celebrations.Earlier in his welcoming remarks, Lok Virsa’s Executive Director Khalid Javaid highlighted various initiatives that his organization have been taking for the last four years to promote and project the cultural heritage of Pakistan. He took special mention of the Lok Virsa’s annual folk festival “Lok Mela” held in April this year ensuring participation of thousands of people, specially rural folk including folk artists, master artisans and folk musicians from all over the country. He termed the holding Pakistan Week as an important measure towards educating masses, in particular youth about the cultural values of the nation.The major features of the Pakistan Week celebrations include an exhibition of cultural heritage, art & craft bazaar, folkloric song and dance performances, cultural evenings, traditional Floats representing all federating units, installation of 24 entrance gates on highways & busy roads, decoration and beautification of different chowks and roundabouts on various themes, stage plays, on-the-spot activities, special attractions for families & children and a prestigious closing/award ceremony scheduled to take place Saturday, 9 June 2012. A large number of people attended the opening ceremony and enjoyed the programmes presented by the organizers.