DISREGARDING INTERNATIONAL outcry over its decision to destroy the
ancient Bamiyan Buddha statues and other heritage artefacts, Afghanistan's Taliban regime
on Thursday began destroying the statues in various cities by using cannons and battle
tanks to blast them.
Taliban Minister of Information and Culture Qudratullah Jamal said
militiamen started wrecking the almost 2,000-year-old Buddhist masterpieces in the central
province of Bamiyan, including the world's tallest standing Buddha measuring 165 feet,
"We will use all means, including cannon and tanks, to destroy the
statues," the Taliban Minister said.
India termed the destruction of the statues as an "absolute
outrage". An MEA spokesman said in New Delhi that the "Taliban are persisting
with their obscurantist and medieval programme in destroying valuable cultural, historical
and archaeological artefacts."
An edict announced on Monday by the militia's supreme leader, Mulla
Mohammad Omar, calling for the destruction of all statues in line with "Islamic"
laws, has shocked the world.
Appeals for their preservation have come from the US, France, Germany,
Thailand, Japan, Sri Lanka, Iran, Pakistan, Germany, Russia, India and UN Secretary
General Kofi Annan.
Koichiro Matsuura, chief of Unesco, said he had convened an emergency
meeting of members of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference.
"They are destroying statues that the entire world considers to be
masterpieces," Matsuura said.
Afghan Foreign Minister Wakil Ahmad Mutawakil said the edict was irreversible.
"Have you ever seen any decision of the Taliban reversed?" Mutawakil asked.