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Protests in Pak on Taliban's action

ISLAMABAD (March 2, 2001): While the government kept a discreet silence, some politicians, diplomats and social workers in Pakistan joined in the international protest on the smashing of ancient statues, including two giant stone Buddhas, by the ruling Taliban Islamic militia in Afghanistan.

Pakistan Muslim League acting president Javed Hashmi said by breaking the statues, ignoring mass international protest, the Taliban would slip further into international wilderness.

Intellectual and poet Ahmed Faraz said the Taliban move to destroy the statues was against Islam. Islam respects other cultures even if they include rituals that are against Islamic law, Faraz told IANS.

And Afghan refugees living in Pakistan, first baffled by the decree, have now condemned the destruction. Afghans were not happy with Mullah Omar's decree, said Fuwwad, an Afghan living in Islamabad.

"It is causing big damage to our history," another Afghan living in Pakistan said. "The war had taken everything else. We had only these (monuments), which are now fading," he added. A long running civil war between rival militia in Afghanistan has ruined the country's economy and left thousands dead.

"The abandoned relics are not our pride," the official Bakhtar news agency quoted Afghan Foreign Minister Wakil Ahmed Muttawakil as telling U.N. special envoy for Afghanistan, Francesc Vendrell, who arrived in Kabul with an appeal from U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan to stop the destruction.

The Pakistan-based Afghan Islamic Press news service later quoted Culture Minister Mullah Jamal as saying statues had been destroyed at museums in Kabul, Ghazni, Herat and at Farm Hadda near Jalalabad.


Updated: 3-3-2001

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