Islamabad, July 11: A three-day Gandhara Symposium 2023, titled “Cultural Diplomacy: Reviving Gandhara Civilization and Buddhist Heritage in Pakistan”, is being held in Islamabad from July 11 to 13.
The Symposium’s organizers include PM Task Force on Gandhara Tourism; the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI); and the Directorate of Archaeology and Museums, Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Over the next three days, the Gandhara Symposium will have an Inaugural and Concluding Session; four Sessions focused on Gandhara Civilization and Buddhist Heritage in Pakistan; a Round Table; visits to Taxila and Peshawar Museums; and a cultural evening.
The Inaugural Session will be addressed by the Honourable President of Pakistan, His Excellency Dr. Arif Alvi, as Chief Guest. Dr. Ramesh Kumar Vankwani, Minister of State, Chairman of the PM Task Force on Gandhara Tourism, will be the Guest of Honour. The Concluding Session will be addressed by Senator Talha Mahmood, Federal Minister for Religious Affairs & Inter-Faith Harmony.
The speakers at the Gandhara Symposium will be from Malaysia, Thailand, South Korea, Nepal, Sri Lanka, China, and Pakistan. Faith leaders, archaeologists, curators, experts, religious scholars, and academicians will reflect on the richness of Gandhara civilization and the Buddhist Heritage. Prominent stakeholders from Pakistan’s tourism industry will also participate in the Symposium.
The Gandhara civilization flourished in the region which is mostly modern-day Pakistan. Situated at the crossroads of ancient trade routes, Gandhara served as a melting pot of diverse cultures and civilizations. One of the most remarkable aspects of the Gandhara civilization was its artistic creativity. The re-discovered cities of the Gandhara civilization exhibited many elements of their well-structured and modern lives through paintings, sculptures, coins, pottery and their relation with Buddhism.
Preserving and further promoting the Buddhist Gandhara heritage is of paramount importance for Pakistan. Besides other modes, digital and social media offer new powerful means for projecting the Buddhist Gandhara heritage in Pakistan to the world. The sacred sites, sculptures, and artefacts of Gandhara are not just relics from the past; they are also as a source of inspiration for the faithful and tourists from different parts of the world.
One of the key objectives of the Gandhara Symposium will be to create awareness about Gandhara and foster a sense of appreciation for Pakistan’s rich and diverse cultural heritage, both domestically and abroad. Another important objective of the Gandhara Symposium will also be to consider new initiatives that reinforce Pakistan’s cultural diplomacy efforts and help promote tourism, particularly faith tourism, in Pakistan.
Against this backdrop, the ISSI is proud to partner with the PM Task Force on Gandhara Tourism; the Directorate of Archaeology and Museums, the Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa; and all other relevant institutions in the convening of the Gandhara Symposium 2023.