Militants attack on Buddhist statue in Swat

by Shaheen Buneri, The Buddhist Channel, Sept 29, 2007

MINGORA, Pakistan -- Unidentified militants exploded the historic statue of Buddha in Jihan Abad area of Swat district in North West Pakistan.

Muhammad Aqleem, deputy curator of Swat Museum told this scribe that some unidentified militants had exploded the 7th century historic statue of Buddha in Jehand Abad area of district Swat on Saturday night.

He said, "This is second attack on the historic statue. In the fresh incident the militants have exploded bombs at the head side of the statue. The blasts have caused irreparable loss to its head and have also damaged its shoulders".

The curator maintained that the statue belonged to 7th century A.D, and it was the most complete and inspiring symbol of Gandahara art. After the historic statues of Bamyan in Afghanistan, which were destroyed by the former Taliban government, the
swat statue was the sole example of Buddhist cultural heritage.

"It was 7 meter high and 20 feet high from the land. In this statue Buddha was shown in the condition of meditation. He was all peace and tranquility in this statue that was destroyed by the militants. I donít know what they want to achieve by such actions. They want to destroy our cultural heritage, they want to disconnect with our past", he elaborated.

Muhammad Aqleem added that he had reported the incident to the local police but he did not think that the police would be able to protect Buddhist cultural sites in swat as police themselves were the victims of terrorist attacks.

Chairman of the Swat arts and cultural organization Usman Ulasyar said that the government has completely failed to protect the cultural heritage of the area.

"This is high time for the international community and United Nations Educational and Cultural Organization "UNESCO" to come forward and protect hundreds of archeological sites in the Swat valley", he demanded.

It merits a mention here that earlier another Buddhist statue in Ghaligai area of Swat district was completely destroyed by militants.

Swat has remained the centre of Gandahara civilization and it was the place from which the Buddhist message of peace of love and harmony spread to other parts of the world.