Govt working to develop Buddhist trail: Bukhari

TAXILA, May 19 (APP):Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Overseas Pakistanis Sayed Zulfikar Bukhari on Sunday said the government was working to develop a Buddhist trail by exploring religious sites in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab to attract the followers of Buddhism and monks from across the globe.

Addressing the Vesak Day (Buddha’s birthday) ceremony here at Dharmarajika Stupa, Bukhari, who has also recently taken charge as Chairman of Pakistan Tourism Development Cooperation (PTDC), said the initiative was being taken by the government as part of its plan to market religious tourism. The trail would start from Swabi and Swat, and culminate at Taxila, which had numerous Buddhist sites.

Likewise, sacred places of other religions, including Sikhism and Hinduism were also scattered all over Pakistan and the PTDC was planning to provide facilities there to attract their followers not only from across the country but also from abroad, he added.

Such initiatives, he said, would help translate the vision of Prime Minister Imran Khan regarding religious tourism into a reality by showcasing non-Islamic heritage to the world. They would also project a soft pluralistic image of Pakistan internationally, he added.

The PTDC chairman said despite bad weather, he had reached there to show the government’s seriousness regarding the welfare of minorities. It also expressed the government’s commitment towards tourism promotion, he added.

He assured that the government would provide full support to the every stakeholder for commemoration of minorities’ religious days.

He said everyone in the country could practice his religion freely as per the vision of Pakistan’s forefathers and that of the prime minister, who was a strong proponent to make the country a welfare state on the pattern of Sate of Madina.

Zulfikar Bukhari also urged the foreign Buddhists to visit the country and help the government in preserving their cultural heritage.

He said the students and academia would be engaged to formulate a policy and help the government promote tourism as a collective resolve and efforts were required for the purpose.

It may be mentioned that Prince Siddhartha known as Buddha was born into the royal family some 2,600 years ago in Nepal. Before attaining the title of Buddha, he abandoned his princely life and spent his life’s six years in spiritual quest.