Afghanistan ready to help erect temple in Bamiyan - Envoy

Afghanistani Ambassador in Colombo, Ashraf Haidari said a Buddhist temple can be built in Bamiyan and it can be discussed under the cultural cooperation between Afghanistan and Sri Lanka.

The envoy was speaking to the Daily News on Wednesday on how best the cultural relations could be further improved for mutual interest.

“I have discussed this matter with several revered monks and encouraged them to approach the Sri Lankan government for support and to work with our two missions to achieve this common goal in recognition of our cherished, shared heritage,” the ambassador said.

Since time immemorial, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka have shared intertwined civilisational ties influenced by such major belief systems as Buddhism, Islam, and Hinduism. These dominated much of the Gandhara region-including modern Afghanistan-from where Buddhism spread to South Asia, Central Asia, and East Asia. And history tells us that some of the early settlers of this paradise-island hailed from the northwest of India and the Indus River region, which Afghans then and today have inhabited.

Haidari further said:“The majestic Buddhas of Bamiyan are a testament to our shared heritage and to Afghanistan’s cultural pluralism and diversity, which underpin the very Afghan identity today.” That is why he said that Afghanistan’s former imperial powers, who later embraced and championed Islam in our flourishing region, revered and protected the Buddhas of Bamiyan, as have the many modern governments of Afghanistan, with the exception of extremist Taliban, who on orders from their foreign patron, tragically dynamited the sixth-century statues of Buddha.

The envoy recalled that since 2013, our two governments have signed and initiated to sign sixteen bilateral cooperation MOUs and agreements in total.

Had the global COVID-19 pandemic not happened, he said:“We would have already had a direct flight between Kabul and Colombo by now, transporting goods, businessmen, students, and tourists to and from our two countries. And this would generate millions of dollars in monthly revenues for both sides, while deepening people-to-people ties between our two beautiful countries with a shared cultural heritage,” he concluded.

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