|Sculpture of the Buddha with face destroyed by Taliban, Jahanabad, Swat Valley, Pakistan (AP)|
Friday, June 29, 2012
Facelift for Pakistan Buddha (Jahanabad)
Dawn.com; Wisdom Quarterly
JAHANABAD, Pakistan (ancient Gandhara, India) - When the [CIA-created] Taliban blew the face off a towering, 1,500-year-old rock carving of the Buddha in northwest Pakistan almost five years ago, it fell to an intrepid Italian archaeologist to come to the rescue.
Extremists have a history of targeting Buddhist, Hindu, and other religious sites they consider heretical to Islam. Six months before the 9-11, 2001 attacks, the [CIA/]Taliban shocked the world by dynamiting a pair of 1,500-year-old Buddhist statues in central Afghanistan. [The plan was to create a pretext to invade, which included saving women from Islamic sexism and, apparently, imposing a Western Judeo-Christian brand.]
Swat Valley. The army drove most of them out two years later, but foreign tourists who used to visit the region still tend to stay away.
Olivieri himself had to leave in 2008 after more than two decades of tending to the riches dating back to Alexander the Great and the Buddhist, Hindu, and Muslim invaders who followed. The 49-year-old head of the Italian Archaeological Mission in Pakistan returned in 2010 and is back at work. More (CBS News coverage)