President Dr Arif Alvi has said that Pakistan highly values its ties with Sri Lanka as both countries enjoy excellent relations based on mutual respect and trust. He made these remarks while talking to a delegation of Sri Lankan Buddhist monks in Islamabad on Wednesday.
Dr Alvi said Pakistan considers Sri Lanka as a special partner and friend. He maintained that people-to-people contact and religious tourism provide excellent platforms to further expand bilateral cooperation between Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
The president stated that Pakistan is home to the Gandhara Buddhist heritage and proud custodian of some of the most sacred relics of Buddhism, offering great potential for promoting religious tourism from Sri Lanka to Pakistan.
He asked the delegation to encourage monks and citizens of Sri Lanka to visit the Buddhist religious sites in Pakistan as it has a far greater number of Buddhist artefacts than any other country in the world. The President expressed the hope that the delegation would enlighten their followers about Pakistan’s Buddhist heritage and also encourage them to undertake religious tours to Pakistan.
The delegation deeply thanked the Government of Pakistan for making excellent arrangements to facilitate its visit to Buddhist sites. It also appreciated the measures taken by Pakistan for the renovation and preservation of Buddhist heritage sites.
Meanwhile, Religious Affairs Minister Pir Noorul Haq Qadri also met with the delegation. The minister said mutual respect and brotherhood between religious groups was the need of the hour.
Just as we have opened the Kartarpur Corridor for India’s Sikh community, we also want to open Buddhist shrines for the Sri Lankan brothers and sisters, he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 22nd, 2021.
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