Monks to start peace march tomorrow

05 Aug 2002

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ISLAMABAD, Aug 4: Led by Japanese Buddhist Monk Reverend Terasawa Junsei, monks from Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Kyrgystan will start the Pakistan-India Prayer March for Peace on August 6 — the day the Americans killed thousands by dropping the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima.

All members of the peace march uphold commitment to peace and have been active in various military conflicts, including the Gulf War, Chechen War and the latest military standoff around the Church of Nativity of Bethlehem in the West Bank, for their non- violent resolution.

On Sunday evening, the monks’ delegation called on the founding president of All Pakistan Buddhist Society, Raja Tridev Roy, and discussed the arrangements for the march and the support provided by the government to facilitate the cause of peace.

Starting from the Buddhist Temple in Diplomatic Enclave, the monks will start the three-month march from the shrine of Hazrat Bari Imam on Monday morning as a symbolic gesture of religious and cultural harmony.

They will then arrive at the Faisal Mosque by 9am, where the culture minister, Col S.K. Tressler (retired), and Buddhist society president Raja Tridev Roy are expected to receive them.

After the symbolic march from Bari Imam’s shrine to the Shah Faisal Mosque, the monks will walk across Margalla Hills upto the Giri site of Taxila.

On Tuesday, a peace meeting will be held in front of the Dharmarajika Stupa at Taxila, in memory of the victims of Hiroshima.

To emphasize the dangers faced by Pakistan and India after nuclearization, the monks have chosen to formally start the peace march from Dharmarajika Stupa on Tuesday.

At a time when people of the subcontinent face real prospect of nuclear holocaust out of the height of present military tensions between the two nuclear rivals, the peace march intends to refresh the incidents of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the minds of the people of the Indian subcontinent so that nuclear weapons are never used again, the monks said in their message for the march.

From Taxila, the monks will travel to Peshawar. On their way, they will visit famous ancient Ashoka’s rock edicts and Kanishka Stupa. The journey will continue through most of Gandhara Buddhist sites of the Swat Valley. The monks have been given permission by the government to pay a 10-day visit to Azad Jammu and Kashmir. The final leg of the peace march in Pakistan will be from Lahore to Wagah border. From there, the march will continue to Amritsar in India on September 15.

In India, the monks will mainly march through the Punjab along the Beas River and the Yamuna River up to Mathura — the site, where Buddhism flourished during the Kanishka Kushan era. The monks will then travel from Ujjain to Sanchi. The journey will finally end at Ashoka Stupa in Sanchi.

“During the last decade of the post Cold War era of global transformations, we saw many military conflicts failing to resolve any fundamental issues, but only aggravating the civilizational divide, resulting in the extreme forms of religious militancy. This peace march reminds the people of Pakistan and India, as well as the whole world, that the very heartland of the present crisis and enormous challenges after the September 11 tragedy was once the cradle of the great civilization of peace, based on the Bodhisattva ideal,” the monks said.