Historic sites being damaged, relics smuggled: Zaheer

KABUL (Pajhwok): Acting Information and Cultural Affairs Minister Mohammad Tahir Zaheer expressed concern over damaging of historic sites and smuggling of relics and asked the masses to cooperate with the ministry in dealing with such challenges.

Addressing reporters here, Zaheer said the International Alliance for the Protection of Heritage in Conflict Areas (ALIPH) had announced $6 million aid at the request of President Ashraf Ghani for restoration and maintenance of historic sites in the country. He said the aid would be used for rehabilitation of Kabul Bala Hisar, Sultan Hussain Beqra’s Madrassa, Bost Port and gate in Helmand, and some pillars in the Muradkhani locality of Kabul.

He added work on protection of other cultural heritage sites such as the house of Maulana Jalaluddin Mohammad Balkhi and other historic sites in Balkh province was underway. Zaheer said there was need for close coordination to protect historic and cultural sites and stop the smuggling of historic relics. He added there was no nation in the world who smuggled their own historic relics abroad.

He said the Ministry of Information and Cultural Affairs conducted workshops and seminars for creating public awareness in 34 provinces to tell people the importance of cultural heritage and historic sites and relics in the country. “Unfortunately, despite the awareness events held nationwide, the ministry noted damage to historic sites and smuggling of relics,” he said.

Zaheer said in insecure areas smugglers used to dig holes in historic places in search of historic items to smuggle them to other places.