ISLAMABAD - President Mamnoon Hussain has said that the government is keen to preserve and develop the ancient cultural heritage of Gandhara not only to promote inter-faith harmony but also to develop tourism in the country.

The president said this while speaking to Park Kyo Soon, secretary general Gandhara Arts and Culture Association, who called on him here at the Aiwan-e-Sadr on Monday. Zulfiqar Rahim, Imran Masood and Amna Aurangzeb, chief coordinator, vice chairman and director of Gandhara Arts and Culture Association respectively accompanied Park Kyo Soon.

Park Kyo Soon apprised the president that Gandhara Art and Culture Association — a non-political, non-profit and non-government association — was working for preservation and conservation of Gandhara sites, revival of the oldest university in the world in Taxila and promoting religious tourism and inter-faith dialogue.

The president while appreciating the role of Park in promotion of Gandhara heritage said that Pakistan had a rich Buddhist archaeological heritage, which it had preserved and protected zealously. The existence of a large number of Buddhist holy places in Gandhara, which are very sacred for Buddhists, are an important part of Pakistan’s historic culture, he said. The government has always welcomed tourists and foreign visitors to these sacred religious sites in Pakistan, he stated and urged the authorities concerned to step up efforts to preserve heritage sites.