Organised under the auspices of the Thai Foreign Office and the Consulate General of Pakistan on October 10th, 2012-the celebration for the six decades of Pakistan-Thailand diplomatic relations, the Venerable Dr. Anil Sakaya turned out to be one of the fiery speakers in the event, lauding the services Pakistan has rendered in the restoration and caretaking of the ancient Buddhist sights in the country.
A celebrated businessman in Thailand, Dr. Anil calls himself a “Salesmonk” rather than a salesman and considers it his moral and religious obligation to promote Buddhism and ancient Buddhist cites all over the world. The event was attended by some 100 renowned businessmen from both countries and marked the Golden Jubilee celebrations of the Thai King and Queen’s first visit to Pakistan.
“We never hear good news about Pakistan. The perception of Thai people is always shaded by violence which is taking place from time to time. But if you look at it from a bigger perspective, it is nothing alien to us. Violence is everywhere, even here in Thailand. We are a peaceful country but look at the news every day. Even the traffic can kill you.”
An active member of the Pakistan-Thailand Business consortium, Dr. Anil was invited by the Government of Pakistan to visit the Buddhist monasteries and stupas in the country and present to the world the priceless treasure the country holds in her lap.
The accomplished businessman insisted that Pakistan and Thailand are only separated by distance and in reality both countries and their people have been in close contact since antiquity. He highlighted the sights often considered as the seats of learning in Buddhism, the Kambuja and Gandhara which is now known as Taksila.
While he lamented the loss of the giant Buddha statues of Bamayan in Afghanistan in 2001, he also accepted the fact that the event actually attracted the attention of Buddhists from all over the world, who were oblivious of rich historical assets both in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
He out rightly rejected the claim that Buddhism is actually a modernised form of Idol Worshipping.
He said, “Sometimes our Muslim friends have a wrong image. They say we are idol worshippers. It is true that in Thailand, we have more Buddhist images than any other place in the world. But who gave us this culture? The whole idea of icon worship all came from Pakistan. Now they have changed but we have already taken the legacy from them. If you really want to know about the authentic Buddhism, go to Pakistan. We are lucky (these Buddhist spots) are not in Afghanistan. They would be gone. We are indebted to Pakistan for maintaining those places.”
DR. Anil lauded the various measures taken by the Pakistani Government to protect and restore the ancient cites in the country but expressed his concerns about the deteriorating security situation in the country.
“I am not a salesman but a Salesmonk for Pakistan tourism. As a Salesmonk, this is a place for many Buddhists, art-lovers and lovers of civilization. This is a place where they have kept things at a pristine level. I am worried that if something changes, what will happen. How things have changed in Afghanistan. They destroyed everything and all the antiquities. I don’t want to see that happen in Pakistan.” He added.
Thanking Anil for his remarks, Ambassador Mahmood said that on 10 Oct 2012, the day marking the 60th anniversary of Thai-Pakistan relations, the Pakistan government will be presenting a replica of one of the most famous Buddha images in the Lahore Museum, The Fasting Buddha, to the people of Thailand.
The image will be placed for permanent public display at a yet to be determined spot in Thailand.