(Washington, March 7): US Secretary of
State Colin Powell has deplored the destruction of ancient Buddhist and other statues by
the Taliban in Afghanistan calling it a "horrible act", "a tragedy"
and "a crime against humankind".
"Its horrible; it is a tragedy. It is a crime against
humankind, and I deplore it," he said at joint press conference with Swedish Foreign
Minister and President of the European Union here yesterday.
He said he did not know the extent of the damage at that time and so he
did not know whether the two major Buddhas had been taken down totally.
The demolition of two giant stone monoliths of Buddha was stopped
yesterday during the Muslim festival of Id- ul-Adha, but a Taliban official said their
destruction was a certainty.
Beijing: Ending a week-long silence, China on Wednesday half-heartedly
joined the growing international condemnation of Afghanistans ruling Talibans
wanton destruction of priceless Buddhist statues.
"We have taken note of the relevant reports," Chinese Foreign
Ministry spokesman Zhu Bangzao said while taking refuge under an earlier statement made by
the state-run Buddhist Association of China (BAC).
Talibans supreme leader Mullah Omar dismissed the criticism of
his destruction call and said Afghan Muslims should be proud of smashing the Buddhist
Analysts say Chinas soft-peddling of the "Bamiyan
issue may have been forced by the Talibans potential to export terrorism to
Chinas restive province of Xinjiang, where Muslims are hoping to create a separate
"We will also be especially sensitive to see how this build-up
relates to its situation with Taiwan, whether it presents any new threat to Taiwan, and we
will look at that carefully," he added.
United Nations: The UN Security Council has asked Taliban regime to
stop the destruction of non-Islamic shrines and artifacts across Afghanistan, saying the
decision of the Islamic militia had led to "incomprehensible and wanton acts of
violence on the cultural heritage."
In a statement, the council said the United Nations had not given up
the hope of saving the priceless statues. The council President, Ambassador Volodymyr Yu
Yelchenko of Ukrain, who read the statement to mediapersons, said the Taliban had started
destroying the statues, but no confirmation had been received that they have actually been
Meanwhile, the Metropolitan Museum of New York has reportedly offered
to remove the statues from Afghanistan at its own cost but so far, the Taliban have not