The government is determined to promoting religious tourism in Pakistan as it would not only project and showcase Pakistan’s history and heritage to the world but also attract tourists across the globe to help boost our economy and the local industry, said Federal Parliamentary Secretary for National History and Literary Heritage Ghazala Saifi.
She was speaking on the first day of Gandhara Festival kicked off on Tuesday at Taxila Museum.
The five-day event is being held to highlight and showcase the significance of Gandhara Civilisation, art, culture and artifacts. The festival offers an opportunity for art, culture and history lovers to benefit from the work of experts on Gandhara civilisation to quench their thirst for knowledge on this subject.
The festival has been organised in collaboration with Punjab Government and United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO). The UNESCO Pakistan is a leading partner of the project and extending expertise and technical support to the government of Punjab for the protection and promotion of heritage sites of Punjab which have paramount importance for Sikhism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Sufi Islam.
Saifi said that indigenous society has a long history of tolerance with other religions. She added PTI-led government identified 8,000 new tourism destinations in Pakistan.
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C2D Executive Director Dr Nadeem Omar Tarar, who organised the event, said that for a variety of reasons, the multi-religious heritage of Pakistan, pivotal for the growth of pluralist Pakistani identity, has been erased from public memory. The communities which are custodians of the Jain and Buddhist heritage of Pakistan are oblivious to the importance of the glorious heritage of Pakistan, which needs to be acknowledged and celebrated. Dr Tarar said that such events would strengthen Pakistan’s pluralistic image to the world.
UNESCO Director Patricia McPhillips highlighted the importance of Pakistan’s multi-cultural heritage and complimented the Pakistani government for supporting an exhibition of Pakistani Buddhist and Jain heritage.
All Pakistan Buddhist Society President Munawar Lal and Sri Lankan High Commission’s Counsellor Administration Chameera Munasinghe were also present on the occasion. To entertain visitors, handicraft and costume stalls have also been set up.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 6th, 2021.