TAXILA, April 14: The South Korean city of Yeonggwang and Swabi City of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) would be declared sister cities, and a letter of intention would be signed during the week in this regard between the KP government and Yeonggwang city council.

This was stated by the mayor of Yeonggwang, Jeonh Gi Ho, while talking to newsmen here at Taxila Museum on Sunday.

Mr Ho is leading a five member delegation from Yeonggwang which will also visit Peshawar, Chota Lahore and Lahore on the invitation of Gandhara art and culture association, Pakistan.

He said Chota Lahore in Swabi District had a great significance in Buddhist history, and Monk Marananatha, the first to bring Buddhism to Korea in 38 AD, had first come to Yeonggwang. Thus both cities are historic and significant, and it had been decided to declare them sister cities, which would help spread a soft image of Swabi and Pakistan.

Mr Ho said a delegation led by former Members of Provincial Assemblies (MPAs) had visited Yeonggwang last year, where a religious resort had been constructed for Buddhists.

He urged the provincial government of KP to construct a monument of Monk Marananatha at Chota Lahore, Swabi since not even a signboard had been placed there.

He also urged Unesco and Buddhist countries to join hands with the Pakistani government for restoration of the ancient Buddhist sites in Pakistan, especially in Taxila.

These sites, declared as “world cultural heritage sites” by Unesco in 1980, are on the verge of decay due to poor maintenance.

The founding member of Gandhara art and culture association Pakistan, MS Easter Park said the association had launched a documentary film narrating the historic journey of Monk Marananatha from Chota-Lahore, Swabi to Yeonggwang, South Korea via China.

She said the declaration of Swabi as sister city, and the launching of the documentary in Korean, would fetch more religious tourists to Pakistan, as the world would know about Pakistan’s cultural heritage.

She said the association would also organise exhibitions of the Gandhara culture, Buddha images and Buddhist sites in South Korea in June this year.

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