- Taliban rule out compromise on giant Buddhas
ISLAMABAD (March 7): Afghanistan's ruling Taliban have ruled out any
compromise to save two giant statues of Buddha and remain determined to smash all statues
in areas under their control, a Pakistan-based Afghan news agency reported on Tuesday.
The Afghan Islamic Press (AIP) quoted Kabul's envoy to Pakistan Abdul
Salam Zaeef as saying that the purist Islamic movement had rejected a proposal from a
London-based Afghan engineer to build walls in front of the ancient figures.
"We will destroy all statues, including the Buddhas, and no other
proposal is under consideration in this regard," Zaeef said, adding that the Taliban
would continue to demolish statues as instructed by their supreme leader Mullah Mohammad
AIP said that engineer Abdullah Naveed had proposed building a wall to
hide the statues in the central province of Bamiyan.
"We passed on that proposal to Mullah Omar, but he refused to make
any compromise," AIP quoted Zaeef as adding.
The Taliban, who control more than 90 per cent of the war-torn nation
and denounce statues as idols, face a world outcry over the decision to destroy all
statues in the country in the name of Islam.
A number of countries and foreign organisations have made offers to
either buy or save the Bamiyan Buddhas, which tower 175 feet (53 metres) and 120 feet
(36.5 metres) and were hewn into sandstone cliffs at least 1,500 years ago.
The Taliban said on Tuesday that over half of the Buddhas had been
destroyed by shelling, but that demolition work had been halted until after the Muslim
festival of Eid ul-Adha (Feast of the Sacrifice), which is expected to last until the