ISLAMABAD (Agencies): The Gandhara Symposium 2023, themed “Cultural Diplomacy: Reviving Gandhara Civilization and Buddhist Heritage in Pakistan,” is set to take place in Islamabad from July 11-13, 2023.

Organized by the PM Task Force on Gandhara Tourism, the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI), and the Directorate of Archaeology and Museums, Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the three-day symposium will encompass various sessions, a round table, museum visits, and a cultural evening.

The symposium will commence with an inaugural session featuring the esteemed presence of His Excellency Dr. Arif Alvi, the President of Pakistan, as the Chief Guest. Dr. Ramesh Kumar Vankwani, Minister of State and Chairman of the PM Task Force on Gandhara Tourism, will serve as the Guest of Honour. The concluding session will include an address by Senator Talha Mahmood, Federal Minister for Religious Affairs & Inter-Faith Harmony.

Distinguished speakers from Malaysia, Thailand, South Korea, Nepal, Sri Lanka, China, and Pakistan will participate in the Gandhara Symposium. Faith leaders, archaeologists, curators, experts, religious scholars, and academics will engage in discussions highlighting the profound significance of the Gandhara civilization and its Buddhist heritage. Representatives from Pakistan’s tourism industry will also contribute their perspectives during the symposium.

The Gandhara civilization, predominantly located in what is now modern-day Pakistan, flourished as a cultural hub along ancient trade routes. Notably, its artistic creativity was unparalleled. Through paintings, sculptures, coins, pottery, and their association with Buddhism, the excavated cities of the Gandhara civilization showcased a well-structured and contemporary way of life.

Preserving and promoting Pakistan’s Buddhist Gandhara heritage is of utmost importance. Modern platforms, including digital and social media, offer powerful tools for showcasing the Buddhist Gandhara heritage to the world. The sacred sites, sculptures, and artifacts of Gandhara not only serve as relics of the past but also inspire believers and attract tourists from across the globe.

One of the central objectives of the Gandhara Symposium is to raise awareness about Gandhara and foster a deep appreciation for Pakistan’s diverse and culturally rich heritage, both domestically and internationally. Additionally, the symposium aims to explore new initiatives that reinforce Pakistan’s cultural diplomacy endeavors and boost tourism, particularly faith tourism, in the country.

The ISSI takes pride in partnering with the PM Task Force on Gandhara Tourism, the Directorate of Archaeology and Museums, Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and other relevant departments and institutions to organize the Gandhara Symposium 2023.

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