ISLAMABAD: The Chief Buddhist Monk Jeon Woom Deok on Thursday called on President Asif Ali Zardari in the Presidency. The Chief Monk who is also the Chairman of the Gandhara Arts and Culture Association, Korea was accompanied with Mr. Choi Joon, Director of the Gandhara Arts and Culture Association, Japan.
He condoled with the President the assassination last year of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto and said that he prayed for strength and wisdom to carry on her mission. Welcoming the Chief Monk the President said that Pakistan welcomed tourists and visitors from other countries to their sacred religious sites and relics in Pakistan. He said that northern Pakistan was home to Buddhist sacred sites and cultural and religious relics.
The Chief Monk also talked about the proposed project of setting up Buddhist Complex at Taxila near Hasanabdal or Takhtbai in Frontier and its affiliate the Gandhara School of Arts. He said that he also proposed to organize a Peace Caravan covering Pakistan, China, Japan and Koreas to spread the message of peace, goodwill and tolerance.
The President welcomed the idea and said that he would request the government to set up a committee comprising of the representatives of the Chief Monk and officials of relevant ministries to look into these proposals aimed at promoting goodwill and interfaith harmony.
He said that the government was keen to preserve the ancient cultural heritage of Gandhara not only as a means to promote interfaith harmony but also to promote tourism in the country. The Chief Monk appreciated the measures taken by the government of Pakistan. Federal Minister for Minorities Mr. Shahbaz Bhatti and Ali Arif, Secretary Tourism were also present at the meeting.-SANA