‘Goodwill Mission to Pakistan strengthened bilateral relations’ | Daily News

‘Goodwill Mission to Pakistan strengthened bilateral relations’

Pakistan High Commissioner Major General Muhammad Saad Khattak along with other officials receiving the delegation led by Buddhist monks at the BIA on their return from Pakistan after concluding the tour.
Pakistan High Commissioner Major General Muhammad Saad Khattak along with other officials receiving the delegation led by Buddhist monks at the BIA on their return from Pakistan after concluding the tour.

An 11-member delegation of prominent Buddhist monks that toured Pakistan recently on a goodwill mission returned to Colombo on Monday.

On arrival at the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA), the delegates were received by Pakistan High Commissioner Major General Muhammad Saad Khattak on Monday. Deputy Chief of Mission Tanvir Ahmad was also present at the event.

The tour was sponsored by the Pakistan High Commission in Colombo in line with Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan’s vision to develop Buddhist religious tourism.

During their stay in Pakistan, the delegation held talks with Pakistan President Dr,Arif Alvi and Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Speaking on arrival at the airport on behalf of his delegation, Chief incumbent of the Gangaramaya Temple Ven. Dr. Assaji Thera expressed gratitude to the Pakistan Prime Minister and for the personal involvement of the Pakistan High Commissioner in extending immense support in arranging the tour. “It provided an invaluable opportunity to visit and experience the glorious Buddhist heritage and relics in Pakistan,” the Thera said.

The Thera highlighted that the Pakistani authorities and officials gave top priority to their comfort and safety during their stay and were also keen on their views and recommendations on improving facilities for Buddhist pilgrims in the country.

Welcoming the Most Venerable Monks on their return, High Commissioner Khattak said that the tour was the culmination of ongoing efforts for enhancing people-to-people contacts and Buddhist religious tourism between Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

The envoy also appreciated the role and efforts of the security forces, the National Heritage and Culture Division and the Foreign Affairs Ministry, Islamabad for conducting the visit in the most befitting manner.

The delegation had visited the heritage sites of the Gandhara Civilization in Taxila, Swat and Takht-i-Bahi in Mardan and experienced various historical and archeological marvels in Lahore and Islamabad

.“Our plan is to build logistical facilities along the trail to facilitate Buddhist pilgrims from across the world,” High Commissioner Khan told the visiting delegation..

Prime Minister Imran Khan underscored the importance of enhancing people-to-people contacts and strengthening interfaith harmony.

Highlighting the Gandhara heritage of Pakistan, the Prime Minister said that Pakistan was a proud custodian of some of the most sacred Buddhist sites in the world and offered a great religious tourism opportunity for tourists from across the world, especially Sri Lanka.

He said that Pakistan is a land of unparalleled natural beauty and historical and cultural sites.

President Dr. Alvi said that Pakistan highly values its ties with Sri Lanka as both countries enjoyed excellent relations in various fields based on mutual respect and trust. He said that Pakistan considered Sri Lanka as a special partner and friend and wanted to further improve bilateral cooperation for the mutual benefits of the two friendly countries.

The President also said that Pakistan was home to the Gandhara Buddhist heritage and proud custodian of some of the most sacred relics of Buddha offering great potential for promoting religious tourism from Sri Lanka to Pakistan.

He told the delegation to encourage the monks and people of Sri Lanka to visit the Buddhist religious sites in Pakistan as it had far greater number of Buddhist artifacts than any other country. He added that people-to-people contacts and religious tourism provided excellent platforms to further expand bilateral cooperation.