ISLAMABAD: For a change, Ministry of Foreign Affairs invited diplomats, based in Islamabad to show case the ‘Glorious Gandhara Civilisation’ to attract tourists
Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi was successful in convincing the diplomats as it was decided to constitute a Gandhara Forum consisting of ambassadors and high commissioners of selected countries whose citizens, especially Buddhists are attracted to the Gandhara Civilisation.
Qureshi underscored the importance of promoting tourism in Pakistan, pointing out that since coming into power; the government has been making concerted efforts to promote tourism especially religious tourism in Pakistan.
The initiative comes on the heels of the announcement of the PTI government to liberalise its visa regime to attract more tourists which saw e-visa facility being given to 175 countries and visa on arrival to 50 countries.
Qureshi said it was time for the diplomats to update their travel advisory to Pakistan and join hands in ensuring that tourists from their countries could take advantage of Pakistan’s Gandhara Civilisation, something no other country could offer. Earlier, its decision to open the Kartarpur Corridor for religious tourism had received positive feedback from thousands of Sikhs the world over. The Forum at the Foreign Office on Monday was attended by the Foreign Secretary, Senior officers of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, High Commissioners and Ambassadors of China, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam as well as experts on Gandhara Civilisation.
Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua in her welcoming remarks highlighted the Gandhara Heritage. According to the Foreign Office, she highlighted Pakistan’s natural beauty, and its many sites sacred to followers of many religions including Buddhism.
“These sites have a potential to attract foreigners especially people across many countries”, she said.