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Afghan envoy condemns Taliban crusade
Maneesh Pandey

NEW DELHI (March 2, 2001): The Taliban's crusade against Afghanistan's `un-Islamic' heritage is `` pathetic and shameful'', according to Masood Khalili, envoy of the Afghan govt-in-exile in New Delhi. ``This will rob the Afghanis of their distinct culture and slap on us yet another crime tag of cultural terrorism, as if narco and religious terrorism were not enough,'' he told The Times of India.

Slamming the Taliban, he said: ``Breaking of statues, hanging of women (reported last week), discriminating civilians on religious lines - last year they asked Asian Hindu citizens to wear deep yellow dress and turban for easy identification - is not part of our (Afghan) culture. It is of some aliens who are claiming part of our land.'' He added ``and that should serve as a warning signal for other central Asian nations and Afghanisthan's immediate neighbours''.

Questioning Taliban's crusade, he says: ``Heritage is no one`s domain. It belongs to humanity. The tallest Buddhas in the world (55 and 38 mts) have been standing there for over 1,500 years and are part of the country's rich cultural heritage. India, Sri Lanka and other South-East Asian nations till date maintain a deep bonding due to the sacred objects and statues, particularly of Buddhist faith there. It's not theirs (Taliban) but of the whole world.'' He blamed the fundamenatlist groups in Pakistan and the Arab world for provoking Taliban's decision. ``The Taliban had decided this under the influence of some fanatic groups of Pakistan and other Arab countries. Four weeks ago, they had a joint meeting where the fanatic factions of Afghanistan, Arab world and Pakistan discreetly decided to destroy what is un-Islamic. They wanted the Taliban to initiate this. They want this to be followed by every Muslim nation in its war against any non-Muslim culture.'' Khalili, while praising India's quick response, said an appeal has ben made to other nations, UN and other global heritage-loving institutions to support them in their war against such cultural carnage.


Updated: 3-3-2001

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