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Pak minister to try to stop demolition of Buddha statues

(Islamabad, March 9): PAKISTAN HAS decided to send Interior Minister Moinuddin Haider to Afghanistan to dissuade the Taliban militia from destroying the 2000-year-old Buddha statues, media reports said here today.

The decision was taken after a flurry of meetings following the arrival of Pakistan military ruler Gen Pervez Musharraf from his eight-day tour of Saudi Arabia on March 7, the Pakistan Observer said.

Haider would leave for Kandahar tomorrow "to mediate between Taliban and the world community, " the daily said.

Interior Ministry officials, however, said they were not aware of any such visit.

Haider had returned from a not-so-successful mission to Kabul and Kandahar last month during which he failed to persuade Taliban to sign extradition treaty with Pakistan.

The news of Haider's proposed visit to Kandahar comes a day after Pakistan leadership summoned Taliban ambassador to Islamabad, Mulla Abdul Salam Zaeef, to convey its displeasure over the destruction of the heritage monuments.

Pakistan's attempts to mediate were seen here as an effort by Islamabad to deflect criticism that it had done little to prevail on Taliban despite plethora of appeals from the world community.

Pakistan foreign office spokesman Riaz Mohammed Khan said Zaeef was informed about Gen Musharraf's appeal to Taliban not to destroy the statues.

Khan, however, said that Taliban's refusal to budge from its decision would not affect Pakistan's ties with the Taliban.


Updated: 9-3-2001

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