Interfaith dialogue between Pakistan, Buddhist countries urged

Prime Minister says Pakistan is proud of its Buddhist heritage which flourished in northwest of country over 2,000 years ago.

ISLAMABAD: A delegation of Buddhist leaders met Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif here on Wednesday and discussed steps to cement and enhance interfaith dialogue and opportunities for cultural and academic exchanges between Pakistan and the Buddhist majority countries.

The delegation included Sri Lanka’s Minister for Buddhasasana, Religious and Cultural Affairs Vidura Wikramanayaka, Thich Duc Tuan from Vietnam, Anil Sakya from Thailand and Dr Keshabman Shakya from Nepal, says a statement.

The delegation is in Pakistan to attend a symposium and an exhibition, “From Gandhara to the world,” organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Talking to the delegation, the prime minister said that Pakistan was proud of its Buddhist heritage which flourished in the northwest of the country in the shape of Gandhara art and culture over 2,000 years ago.

He stressed the importance that his government attached to interfaith harmony and acknowledged the contributions of the Buddhist scholars and monks to the promotion of interfaith harmony.

The meeting concluded with a resolve to continue exploring avenues for mutual understanding and cooperation, and to work together towards a more harmonious and peaceful world.  The possibility of establishing a joint forum for dialogue and collaboration was also discussed.

Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Ishaq Dar said Pakistan was committed to preserving Buddhists heritage and historical sites.

Speaking at a ceremony held in honor of the delegation, he said these sites were once the thriving centers of Buddhist scholarships which attracted the monks and played a pivotal role in the dissemination of Buddhist teachings across Asia. He called for building stronger bond of friendship with predominantly Buddhists states by fostering cultural exchange programme, religious tourism and educational collaborations.

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