Practicing Buddhists in Pakistan ‘facing extinction’

The last surviving practicing Buddhists in Pakistan are facing extinction due to unavailability of worship places, religious teaching and government patronage, reported local media.
  
A five-member group of practicing Buddhists from Naushahro Feroze in Sindh — who visited the ongoing Gandhara exhibition — said that Taxila is the holiest place of their religion as ashes of Lord Buddha were buried and his tooth relics were preserved there, according to Dawn.

“We are pleased to visit this place thanks to the organisers of the exhibition. Although we enjoy complete religious freedom and there is no bar on performing our religious rituals, the religion in Pakistan is on the verge of extinction due to different reasons,” Dawn reported quoting Lala Muneer, who is heading the delegation, as saying.
   
Stressing that though the exact number of Buddhists was not known, Muneer said that there were around 650 families of practicing Buddhists in different districts of rural Sindh, including Ghotki, Sanghar, Khairpur, Nawabshah and Naushahro Feroze. There is no temple or Stupa for them to offer their religious rituals.
   
Underlining that Buddhism is facing extinction in Pakistan another Buddhist Juman said that they are the last surviving followers and emphasised that the government should establish a temple for them and hire a monk from any Buddhist country to teach them about Buddhism.
   
Highlighting that there is no monk to teach and transform religious teachings and practices to the coming generation, Juman said that they observe their rituals according to tales, old customs and limited books available with them in the Sindhi language.
   
Executive director of Centre for Culture and Development (CCD), Dr Nadeem Omar Tarar, said that despite the fact that Buddhism had flourished in Taxila the demographic shift at the time of independence led to an eclipse of the religious heritage of world communities that once thrived here, reported Dawn.
   
Tarar said communities which were custodians of the Buddhist heritage of Pakistan were oblivious to the importance of the glorious heritage which needed to be acknowledged and celebrated. (ANI) 

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