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TAXILA, Feb 12: Better projection and showcasing of Gandhara civilisation sites may prove an encouraging factor to attract scholars and religious tourists from all over the world here.

Pakistan has a multi-faceted rich heritage, divergent cultures and is honoured to be the birth place of ancient civilisations, which it should strive to share with the world.

This was stated by Asean’s Islamabad Committee members during their day-long visit to archaeological museum in Taxila and ancient sites.

The committee members comprised High Commissioner of Brunei Pehin Colonel (retired) Dato Abdul Jalil Ahmad; Ishaq Latuconsina, Ambassador of Indonesia; San Myint, Ambassador of Myanmar; Jesus I. Yabes Ambassador of Philippines and Dato Ahmad Anwar Adnan, high commissioner of Malaysia besides their family members and embassy staff.

They said Pakistan was blessed with cultural richness and a better showcasing of the rich cultural, historical and archeological heritage sites would fetch more tourists to this valley especially for observing religious festivals at the Buddhist site here.

Ambassador of Philippines Jesus I. Yabes, while talking to Dawn, appreciated the efforts of Pakistan for preserving Buddhist places of religious worship.

He said he was very much impressed after seeing this ancient site as Taxila used to be a seat of learning and capital of the Gandhara civilisation.

“There is no security problem for foreign tourists especially religious tourists in Buddhist sites and by offering cultural and religious activities at these places Pakistan can fetch a large number of tourists from Buddhist countries”.

He said majority of Buddhist people lived in Asian countries but they had not known about the rich sites of Pakistan and its treasure as no information, pamphlets and books in their respective languages were made available to them.

Speaking on the occasion, Indonesian ambassador Ishaq Latuconsina said the Pakistani government was also taking pragmatic steps for preserving Buddhist heritage in the country.

He lauded the efforts of local archeologists for better preservation and restoration of centuries-old relics. He urged the government to build a soft image of the country among communities of the world and to promote and publicise its cultural, historical, archeological and religious potential.

The Pakistani government should go an extra mile to fetch international tourists especially from Buddhist countries home. He said a large Buddhist population lives in Indonesia and with delegates’ exchange they would have better understanding of the rich heritage.

High Commissioner of Brunei Pehin Colonel (retired) Dato Abdul Jalil Ahmad remarked that revolutionary steps both by the Pakistani government and private sector are need of the hour in this regard.

Earlier, on their arrival, officials of archeology department received the diplomats from Asean countries.

Briefing them, Curator Taxila Museum Nasir Khan said there were 4,000 objects displayed, including stone, stucco, terracotta, silver, gold, iron and semiprecious stones. He claimed that Gandhara sculptures were a prime attraction.

He said: “Gandhara sculptures influenced the art of not only India but every part of the Buddhist world — Tibet, Ceylon, Burma, Siam, Java as well as Central Asia, China, Korea and Japan and produced Asia’s greatest artistic success i.e. Buddha-image.”