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Seminar criticizes Taliban mentors

DAWN, Monday 19 March 2001, 23 Zilhaj 1421

KARACHI, March 18: The Taliban are not solely responsible for the present situation in Afghanistan as those who once supported them and encouraged their obscurantist tendencies were equally blameworthy.

This was the consensus of the speakers at a seminar entitled Who is responsible for the present situation in Afghanistan held at PMA House on Sunday. The seminar, organised by Labour Party Pakistan, Karachi, was presided over by PPP (SB) chief Ghinva Bhutto and the speakers included Yousuf Masti Khan of NWP, Taj Haider of PPP, Abdul Hameed Chhapra of PFUJ, Syed Waqar Kazmi of MKNP and Omar Baloch of LPP.

Ms Bhutto pointed out that mounting antagonism of the world community towards our nations reflected in its acts of imposing sanctions and prescribing solutions not compatible with the public good has given rise to obscurantism.

Ghinva Bhutto said it was appalling to witness deliberate destruction of the Bamyan Buddhas taking place in the name of religion. However it is equally appalling to see that the governments of countries who are condemning the Taliban action now did not show the same amount of concern when the Israeli forces shot dead Lola Abboud and Sanaa Mheidi.

She recalled that two days ago, the Taliban spokesman had lamented that while destruction of Budha statues engaged the world attention, no one bothered to help alleviate the suffering of the people faced with famine due to the drought that had taken many areas of Afghanistan in its sweep.

She asked: Does the destruction of those statues seem any more ugly than the sanctions imposed on Iraq, or Afghanistan, or Pakistan or India? Is the sight of broken Buddha more repulsive than the sight of hungry and sick children? Is the absence of those relics any more harmful than the absence of schooling and appropriate conditions for our children to grow up, educate themselves and be happy? Indeed the statues are a great mark of Man's civilisation, but Man must come first.

While saying that the action of the Taliban cannot be justified, she also slammed the double standards of the west.

Yousuf Mastikhan said the obscurantism in Afghanistan had become a threat not only to Pakistan but to the region and the humanity as well.

He traced the history of Afghanistan after the overthrow of Zahir Shah in Kabul and said that in order to appease the US Pakistan's interests were sacrificed by the subsequent governments.

Taj Haider called upon enlightened forces in the country to unite against imperialist forces.