NEW YORK -- The world watched in horror when Taliban forces destroyed the monumental Buddha statues in Bamiyan, Afghanistan in 2001. Political and cultural leaders from around the globe condemned the attacks. Offers of help poured in. Everyone asked: will the world be ready next time? Alas, the answer is a resounding “no.”
In northwest Pakistan’s Swat valley armed Islamist militants recently attacked one of the oldest and most important sculptures of Buddhist art. Dating from around the beginning of the Christian era, and carved into a 130-foot-high rock, the seated image of the Buddha was second in importance in South Asia only to the Bamiyan Buddhas.
This, moreover, was the second attack in less than a month. Murtaza Razvi of Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper has pointed out that the image that was attacked was not in a remote area. In fact, it was next to the central road that runs through the valley.