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Friday, 16 March, 2001, 10:04 GMT
What future for Afghanistan?

The BBC correspondent in Afghanistan has been expelled by the ruling Taleban authorities.

Kate Clark's expulsion comes soon after the Taleban attracted widespread condemnation for destroying a group of ancient Buddhist statues, which they considered to be heretical. The Afghan rulers objected to the BBC's coverage of that event.

The destruction of the statues has further isolated Afghanistan, a country already bedevilled by drought, food shortages and a massive refugee problem. But international opprobrium does not seem to worry the Taleban.

They claim to be misrepresented. Are they? What future now for Afghanistan?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

Your reaction

The only way to resolve the issues here is by engagement with the Taleban. This should not only be done through the UN, but US and European diplomats should visit the country and talk to these people. Pakistan should also be exerting much more of an influence. If this doesn't work, and people's lives continue to be destroyed (which is, after all, much more tragic than the destruction of statues, no matter how historically important), then human rights will somehow have to be defended. Unfortunately, the only way the Taleban could be called to account in such a situation is through force, but what a Pandora's box that would be for the West.
Paul, UK

What country hasn't destroyed another's culture at some stage?

Sion Williams, UK
I'm a Buddhist. It's a real shame that any ancient art, Buddhist or otherwise is ever destroyed by anybody. The consequences of any action based on greed, hatred or delusion will inevitably be bad. It doesn't look good for the Taliban. But I think that the suffering of humanity is far more important than any art. So we should respond with kindness to the Taliban, try not to be too judgmental as we too have our own faults. What country hasn't destroyed another's culture at some stage?
Sion Williams, UK

The Taliban fanatics are fools if they think that they can destroy an idea by removing its symbolic manifestations. They accomplish nothing except to offend people of civility and goodwill throughout the world and to erase their own cultural past. Whatever else they may do, history has already condemned them for this action.
Van, USA

There is no excuse to support the destruction of any fine historic culture. Islam directs one to respect another's faith. Probably, some fanatics are misinterpreting these directions and using them inappropriately and politically destroying those valuable statues.
Shameem, USA

What right has the world to lament over a few recently made statues when the million years old earth is being deformed? There is not a single line of protest when they totally erase huge mountains and other creations of God from the face of earth.
Zainab, India

I am an Afghan and though this may be my country, I think what the Taliban are doing is totally wrong. Islam is our religion but it may not be that of others. Each individual has a right to choose for themselves what religion they want to follow, no one has the right to tell them what they can or can't do.
Shafiqa, California

What are all the countries condemning them going to do?

Mohammad Ahsan, Canada
The Taleban have the right to do whatever they want in the light of Islam. What are all the countries condemning them going to do? Attack the already ruined country? If they do, then be prepared for the consequences.
Mohammad Ahsan, Canada

The mindless destruction of the Buddhist statues at Bamiyan is arguably one of the most heinous crimes against world heritage of the last 50 years. How can anyone justify the Taliban's actions when it smacks of a total disregard to other religions? Nothing in the Koran says that all other religions should be obliterated and if anything preaches tolerance.
Hugh Watkinson, UK

Of course it is wrong for the Taliban to destroy precious relics of the past - but no worse than the extremist Hindus who destroyed a mosque in India, or the Jews who destroy Muslim land. I hardly hear about these. At the end of the day, these are some rocks which until recently were little known throughout the world. What people need to be more concerned about is the unnecessary death of numerous people throughout the world because of war, unrest or starvation. It isn't rocks but the lives and well being of our children around the world that matter. Let's get our priorities straight.
Hasina, UK

All that the Taleban have succeeded in doing is to reinforce their image of being intolerant and barbaric.
Arun, San Francisco, USA

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See also:

14 Mar 01 | South Asia
Full text of Taleban statement
14 Mar 01 | South Asia
The Taleban and the BBC
20 Jan 98 | From Our Own Correspondent
A visit to the giant Buddhas
02 Mar 01 | South Asia
Analysis: Taleban isolation deepens
20 Dec 00 | South Asia
Analysis: Who are the Taleban?
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