Sri Lanka’s relations with Pakistan vital - PM
Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickramanayaka said the friendship between Sri Lanka and Pakistan is vital at this stage as both countries are prone to terrorism and as neighbours had stood together in hard times. He was addressing a seminar on Buddhist Gandhara heritage of Pakistan recently in Colombo.
He commended the efforts of the government of Pakistan for preserving the Buddhist architecture and heritage in Pakistan. The Pakistan government not only has preserved the remnants of Buddhist civilization in the country but also stood with the Buddhist community during the destruction to Bamiyan Buddha statues.
He said Buddhist civilization in this region was a seat of learning and the Buddha’s profound and compassionate message which spread from this region to India, China, Afghanistan and other countries has changed the lives of people around the world.
The Prime Minister said Pakistan helped Sri Lanka at a time when others were forcing us to lay weapons and negotiate to the world’s most brutal terrorist outfit, LTTE whereas they never thought of talking to Bin Laden whom they declared a terrorist. Terrorism is posing a serious challenge to mankind.
Pakistan High Commissioner Shahzad A. Chaudhry said that Pakistan is a meeting point of various civilizations, cultures and religions since times immemorial. The most well preserved among all is the heritage of Buddhist Ghandhara civilization that flourished in Pakistan region during first to sixth century AD.
The High Commissioner said the Pakistan government welcomes Buddhist community of Sri Lanka to Pakistan to re-establish relations with the history and heritage.
The Pakistan government is doing its best to expand opportunities for Sri Lanka to forge closer links with the Gandhara civilization.
“Pakistan has increased the number of flights from Colombo from 3 to 14 per week to Sri Lankans to visit Pakistan through Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad and provide easy access to other parts of Pakistan,” he said.
Buddha’s message is a source of light for us in today’s world of turmoil. The High Commissioner said the Pakistan government has taken steps to preserve Buddhist sites and heritage and invite Sri Lankans to visit these places.
Pakistan has many Buddhist shrines, relics, archaeological artifacts and ancient sites of monasteries and other Buddhist centres of learning and stupas which are well conserved and open for religious tourism and research.
The Pakistan High Commissioner distributed copies of Sinhala translation of the world famous books “Gandhara Art” and “Buddhist Gandhara - History, Art and Architecture” written by Prof. Emeritus Ahmad Hassan Dani and Ihsan H. Nadiem.
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