[The Express Tribune 24 November 2019] ISLAMABAD: Folk musicians and dancers from Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) mesmerized the audience at the annual Lok Mela festival at Lok Virsa on Saturday.

With tunes from traditional instruments such as the flute and rabab setting the tone for the evening, musicians Salman Paras, Manzoor Baltistani, Saddique Mughal, Rashid Iqbal, Iqbal Hussain and Doulat Wali Baig transported the audience to the deep valleys and high peaks of G-B.

The musical performance was then topped up by a dance performance by Barmi Harees and Majeed. Later, some G-B natives who were in the audience joined in to perform their traditional dance to the tune.

G-B Council Standing Committee Chairman Ashraf Sada, who was the chief guest, appreciated efforts of the heritage museum in promoting the rich heritage of the country.

“Lok Virsa deserves a commendation,” he said, adding that the museum and cultural centre was “projecting the true culture of G-B.”

“We will support every initiative that can lead to harmony and integration amongst the nation, which is the need of the hour,” he stated.

He then went on to inspect the festival grounds and the different pavilions set up for different regions of the country. He remarked that a unique combination of the cultural heritage of all federating units has been presented.

Besides the four provinces, G-B is also participating in the festival with a contingent comprising over 40 master artisans, folk artists and other officials.

In the G-B pavilion, a group of young artists and musicians, dressed in their traditional regional dresses attracted the attention of visitors with their performances.

Historically, G-B has been at the crossroads of various civilizations for centuries. It has a unique location and serves as a convergence for some of the world’s highest mountain ranges – the Pamirs, the Karakoram and the Hindukush. It has also been a place of cultural cross currents.

Living in historical oblivion and geographical isolation from the rest of the world, the people have clung to a farming life, raising cattle, tending orchards and harvesting crops.

The festival will culminate on Sunday with a colourful award distribution ceremony amongst the most talented and deserving artisans and artists on the recommendations of a national jury constituted for the purpose in full view of the national media.