Religious leaders urged to foster global unity and understanding at Gandhara symposium

Religious leaders urged to foster global unity and understanding at Gandhara symposium

ISLAMABAD, MAY 29 /DNA/ – Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Mohammad Ishaq Dar has welcomed all the international delegates for the Symposium, “From Gandhara to the World” to Pakistan and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It is a great honor to have such esteemed guests.

I could not attend the inaugural session of the Symposium due to some pressing engagements outside Islamabad. I, therefore, requested the honourable Minister for Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony to join and welcome you in my place, and he very graciously accepted my request. I am glad that the event has been successful, and you had productive discussions in the Symposium.

Let me extend my heartfelt felicitations to our Buddhist sisters and brothers on the auspicious occasion of Vesak. This important occasion offers us a moment to reflect on the timeless teachings of peace, compassion, and understanding.

The Symposium “From Gandhara to the World,” provided a vital platform to explore our shared heritage and discuss ways to preserve and promote it for future generations.

Pakistan is a proud custodian of several significant sacred Buddhist sites. Gandhara, located in the northwest of Pakistan, is the region which contributed to the spread of Buddhism to the world. This historic land, with its rich cultural and religious legacy, played a pivotal role in the dissemination of Buddhist teachings across Asia.

Several notable historical locations, such as Taxila, Takht-i-Bahi, and the Swat Valley, are home to ancient Buddhist relics and monasteries. These sites were once thriving centers of Buddhist scholarship, attracting monks and scholars from far and wide.

Pakistan is committed to preserving its Buddhist heritage. We encourage joint efforts to promote and protect these historical sites. Collaborative projects in archaeological research and cultural tourism can bring greater awareness to these landmarks. By working together, we can ensure that these sites are not only preserved but also celebrated as part of our collective human history.

Our shared ancient heritage offers a foundation for further strengthening ties between Pakistan and predominantly Buddhist states. By fostering cultural exchange programs, religious tourism, and educational collaborations, we can build stronger bonds of friendship and mutual respect.

Let me also take this opportunity to call for consistent efforts aimed at promoting intercultural and interfaith dialogue. It is the need of the hour that we make efforts for greater understanding, and take a joint stand against the forces of intolerance, violence and hatred against any religion and religious group. We should establish a joint forum focused on dialogue and collaboration, ensuring that our efforts towards peace and understanding continue to grow and flourish.

Religious leaders have a key role to play in guiding their followers towards mutual respect and understanding. Their influence can help bridge divides and promote a culture of coexistence and unity. In this spirit, I urge greater collaboration between Islamic and Buddhist communities worldwide.

Let me, once again, thank you for your visit and your valuable contribution.