15 May, 2011

‘Pakistan should be hub of Tourism, not Terrorism’

Published in Pakistan Observer (15 May, 2011)
Sana Jamal

Islamabad - Pakistan should become the hub of tourism and not terrorism by promoting the rich cultural heritage of the country. This was stressed at a conference on Gandhara: Road to peace, prosperity and interfaith harmony” arranged here on Saturday by Gandhara Art and Culture Association (GACA).

Anwer Saifullah Khan, chairman of GACA urged on “restoring and reviving the cultural glory of the region through the establishment of a Buddhist University in Taxila – a city which is as important for Buddhists as is Mecca for Muslims. “This step will greatly improve the image of Pakistan in the international world” he added.

Taxila, one of the oldest cities of Pakistan, was an ancient seat of learning (5th to 2nd century BC) where world’s first University was established in the Buddhist era. Ms. Esther Park, director of GACA said that GACA aims to revive the oldest university in the world by establishing a Buddhist University at the same site. “The institution can become one of the best research institutes on Gandhara, attracting a large number of religious tourists and scholars from across the world, especially China, Korea and Japan.” She also gave a video presentation on Gandhara renaissance.


The supporters for the proposed the university told that they are seeking funds from Pakistan government as well as private donors at home and abroad.

Speaking to the audience, Masood Ali Khan, a guest speaker pointed out that Pakistani scholars only educate students about 65 year old history but neglect the fact that Pakistan is home to 5000 years old heritage.

Mian Imran Masood, former provincial minister Education said that “the government of Pakistan has provide land for the establishment of the Gandhara university but the project still face a huge financial support to see the light of the day.”

Dr Abdur Rehman, an eminent scholar and archaeologist gave a detailed presentation on Gandhara art and shared the story of Siddhartha Gautama Buddha.

Saeed Akhtar, a famed artist discussed in detail the critical review of a classic Gandhara relic – “the fasting Buddha” when Buddha was merely reduced to skin and bone after six years of fasting. Tauseef Zaman, Vice President Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI) extended his full support to Gandhara Art and Culture Association.
Gandhara region, comprising Taxila, Peshawar and Swat valley is very rich in cultural heritage and is a sacred land for the Buddhists. With the development of the Gandhara region, the area could become preferred place of visit by the Buddhists as it contains a great component of the evolution history of this religion.
Takhat i Bhai is one of the most important Buddhist monastery in Gandhara. According to the chief monk of Korea “Takhat i Bhai is even a better than the great pyramids of Egypt” if compared as the universal energy conversion location, and “the proper restoration can make the monastery more popular than the pyramids.”