ISLAMABAD: Korean Ambassador Kwak Sung-Kyu said Pakistan has great potential for Buddhist religious tourism.
“The current government is working towards the safety of religious sites as well as promotion of tourism,” he said, adding that Pakistan was home to the largest number of Buddhist sites and that promotion of religious tourism can greatly stabilise the economy of Pakistan.
Talking to Daily Express, he termed Pakistan as a friendly nation for Korea and said that the ancient cultural and religious artifacts in Pakistan were very unique. He said that Pakistan was home to the most ancient heritage of Buddhism. We request the Pakistani government to take special care of our religious sites and preserve them for our future generations. As per its contract with the Pakistani government, he said, Korea will provide modern equipment for the discovery of precious artifacts and cultural sites in Pakistan.
While addressing a ceremony held in Islamabad museum later on Friday, he said that Korea will ensure all possible support for Pakistan. “We will provide international standard machinery and equipment to Pakistan to help it excavate historic sites and artifacts,” he added. On the other hand, National History and Literacy Division Federal Secretary Amir Hasan said that the Pakistani government will take effective measures at every level. We are thankful to the Korean government for assuring their support, he said, adding that the machinery will help Pakistan unearth undiscovered cultural sites in the country.
Pakistan and South Korea have warm cultural relations which are deep routed in history.
The common heritage of Buddhism is of particular importance for cementing cultural and religious ties between the two countries.
The Republic of Korea and its embassy in Pakistan are committed to increasing relations with Pakistan for preservation of cultural heritage and to promote tourism in Pakistan.
As part of cooperative efforts, the Korean government has provided conservation equipment for treating and preserving Pakistan’s movable heritage, especially specimens of Buddhist art, which has been uncovered from the archaeological remains of Buddhist sanctuaries in the ancient Gandhara region to Department of Archaeology and Museums (DoAM).
The equipment included environmental control system for museums, devices for cleaning and conservation of antiquities including conservation consumables, stereo-microscope, ultrasonic cleaner etc. at the amount of US$50,000.
The equipment will surely be instrumental in promoting the country’s capacity to conserve its cultural heritage to the international level.
The project has been administrated jointly by the Cultural Heritage Administration (CHA) of the Republic of Korea, Korea Cultural Heritage Foundation (KCHF) and DoAM, Pakistan with a common aim.
The Korean Ambassador and National History and Literacy Division secretary, DoAM director general and other officials from both sides participated in the handing-over ceremony that took place at the Islamabad Museum on Friday.
He also announced that there would be new upcoming initiatives similar to this. Among them, he is emphatically working to arrange a pilot Korean Buddhists pilgrim tour to the sacred Buddhist sites in Gandhara, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa by March or April this year.
This will be followed by a couple of projects such as; one more project for capacity-building of treating historical artifacts, and a programme to invite archaeological officials and academia, preferably from museums having collections of Buddhists artwork to Korea soon.
(WITH ADDITIONAL INPUT FROM DNA)
Published in The Express Tribune, February 16th, 2019.