Pakistan thanked for preserving Buddhist sites

By Janaka Perera, Asian Tribune, June 28, 2008

Colombo, Sri Lanka -- Sri Lanka's Central Cultural Fund Chairman Professor Sudarshan Seneviratne this week lauded Pakistan for her immense contribution towards the protection and preservation of Gandhara's ancient Buddhist cultural heritage.

He said this on the occasion of the distribution of copies of two Sinhala translations of Pakistani publications on Gandhara civilization, among researchers and academics at the International Information Centre, Kandy on June 22.

Pakistan's High Commissioner in Sri Lanka Shahzad Chaudhry was the Chief Guest at the ceremony. Among the others who attended the event were the Guest of Honour, Central Province Governor Tikiri Kobbekaduwa, Kandy Mayor L.D. Aluvihare, Venerable Pahamune Sri Sumangala of the Malwatte Chapter, Peradeniya University's Vice Chancellor, Indian Consulate's Assistant Commissioner and officers of the Pakistan High Commission.

Addressing those present Prof. Seneviratne gave a detailed presentation of the importance of Gandhara and its magnificently preserved jewel the ancient city of Taxila, near Islamabad. Speaking on the development of Gandhara Art and its significant influence and Buddhism's eastward spread up to Japan, he invited all Buddhists to visit the sacred Buddhist sites and works of art in Pakistan.

The Venerable Sri Sumangala began his speech with the Pali stanza that narrates the presence of one of Buddha's tooth relics in Gandhara. He too appreciated the services of the Pakistan Government for the preservation of that country's Buddhist heritage.

Governor Kobbekaduwa thanked Islamabad for the support extended to various development projects in the Central Province.

Pakistan's High Commissioner Chaudhry said that his country has been preserving and protecting several historical sites like Harappa and Mohenjodaro. But special attention is given to Taxila in view of the shared past that Pakistan is determined to preserve for the world. Therefore he noted that it was now up to Buddhists worldwide to take advantage of this opportunity and visit the places of religious interest for them.

The High Commissioner also handed over several books on Pakistan to the vice chancellor as a donation to the Peradeniya University Library.