UNESCO Mobilizes to Save Afghan Statues
The director general of UNESCO, Koichiro Matsuura, is making major efforts to save pre-Islamic statues in Afghanistan that the ruling Taliban movement has started to destroy, reported AFP, quoting a statement by the organization.
UNESCO, which sent former French ambassador Pierre Lafrance to Kabul to plead for the relics to be spared, confirmed that Matsuura had asked President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt to intervene with the Taliban, said the agency.
The director general asked Mubarak "for all the support he could give him to convince the Taliban to stop the destruction, this irreparable crime," UNESCO communication director Helene Gosselin told AFP.
Matsuura had already begged for backing from Pakistan's military ruler Pervez Musharraf, French President Jacques Chirac, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and the Organization of the Islamic Conference, currently headed by Qatar.
The Iranian News Agency (IRNA) quoted a statement by the Pakistani foreign ministry as saying Tgursday that General Pervez Musharraf has urged Taliban to halt its ongoing destruction of priceless pieces of Afghan cultural heritage.
The statement added Musharraf launched a special appeal to the Taliban rulers during his recent visit to Saudi Arabia in this regard, according to the agency.
Meanwhile, Qatari ambassador to Pakistan Mohammad Falah met Wednesday with the Taliban envoy in Islamabad and informed him of the OIC chairman's concern over the destruction of the statues, said IRNA.
Taliban had announced on Friday that the giant 1,500-year-old Buddhas in Afghanistan's central Bamiyan Valley would be dynamited. The statues had already come under fire from tanks, rockets and automatic weapons.
UNESCO special envoy Lafrance said in Islamabad on Wednesday he would return to Afghanistan this week in a second bid to save the ancient statues, but he was not hopeful, said AFP.
He said some circles within the hard-line Islamic militia had let their emotions overtake reason following Taliban Supreme Leader Mullah Mohammad Omar's edict last week ordering the destruction of all statues.
"I would not say that I feel hopeful but there is room for more attempts at calming down the situation ... I hope that a more reasoned approach will prevail," he said Wednesday -- Albawaba.com
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