Buddha relics key to promoting Pakistan’s soft image abroad

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has the rare honour of being the home to the Buddha’s remains. Their ingenious presentation can not only boost religious tourism but also promote the country’s soft image abroad.

Muhammad Iqbal Khan Manj, Deputy Director of Archaeology (North), Lahore Head Office, said this while talking to WealthPK.

Sharing details about the sacred Buddha relics showcased beautifully in the Taxila Museum, he said since the inauguration of Taxila Museum in 1928, the holy Buddhist relics had been kept there in secret chambers to avoid their theft. 

These relics were discovered during the excavation of Dhrmarajika Stupa located in Taxila between 1912 and 1916 before the Partition. Sir John Marshal, then Director General of Archaeological Survey of India, carried out the digging. 

The relics were found in a small golden casket wrapped with inscriptions in the ancient Kharosthi script of Gandhara. It was inscribed on the silver wrapping foils around the Buddha relics that Urusaka of Noacha placed the bone relics of Lord Buddha in his Chapel at Dhrmarajika.

Continuing the discussion, he said, “These relics were hidden from the common people. So, as the Deputy Director of Sub-Regional Office, Taxila, I decided to reveal them to the common viewers and started working on the project. 

“The Government of Thailand coordinated with the Government of Pakistan in this regard. I was part of the team that mutually worked with Thai experts to ensure safe display of the relics. The project was started in 2021 and completed and inaugurated in 2022.” 

He further said, “To ensure the safety of Buddhist tooth relics in public, a special bullet-proof glass case was designed with a smart security alarm system. It is a crystal-clear glass case with gold plating to showcase the holy relics in the main hall of the Taxila museum with a detailed note about their history.”

“Pakistan is a centre of cultural activities. It depends upon how can we smartly present them to the rest of the world. Economy is the backbone of any country. Variation is a regular part of the economic cycle. Sometimes, it collapses, and sometimes, this situation never happens and the economic rotation goes on smoothly. The main reason to explain all this is that the economic swings must not be allowed at any cost to disturb our goals and policies,” Manj said.

He said the tourism sector was the main source of income generation in many countries, such as Sri Lanka. This South Asian nation encountered a challenging economic crisis but they stuck to its promotion and got out of it gradually.

“We must try to focus on our goals and important projects even in any crisis, only then will we succeed in combating the severity,” he added.

Talking about his recent visit to Sri Lanka in September this year, Manj said despite facing a severe economic crisis,  Sri Lankans never allowed tourism to take the back seat and doubled up their efforts for its promotion. Pakistan needs to follow Sri Lankans’ spirit and build its better image in the outside world.

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