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The Killid Group

Despite insecurity, Ghazni to celebrate

Written by Mohammad Nasim Akbari
Saturday, 11 February 2012 11:54

Despite insecurity, Ghazni to celebrate

Ghazni's governor has opened a bank account for money towards the restoration of the historic city by 2013.
The provincial capital has been nominated as a City of Islamic Culture for the Asian region.
Plans have been made by the Ministry for Information and Culture to rebuild some 42 historical places including tombs, mosques and minarets from the Ghaznavid dynasty (10th to 12th centuries) when rulers led raiding expeditions into South Asia under the banner of Islam.
But progress has been slow, and Ghazni's Governor Musa Khan Akbarzada recently opened a bank account for the reconstruction work, calling it Kashkol-e-Bahlol (from a well known folk tale about a storyteller who wore a bag in which listeners put coins), and said the only person who can deposit money in the account is himself.
"Nothing has been done with regards to reconstruction," the governor said. The Hamid Karzai government has allocated 10 million USD for the repair and rebuilding of sites including the mausoleums of Sultan Mahmud Ghaznavi, Sultan Ibrahim and Bahram Shah, and Baba Ali Kotwal and Baba Jee mosques in the Old City.
A commission created by Karzai and supervised by the Vice President, Marshal Mohammad Qasim Fahim was transferred to Ghazni province by a decision of the council of ministers.
The money has been earmarked for the construction of an Islamic Traditions Centre, a terminal, an enclosed market for women and the reconstruction of the tomb of Abu Raihan Al-Biruni, considered one of the greatest scholars of the medieval Islamic period.

Monetary support
Governor Musa Khan recently toured Herat, Mazar-e-Sharif and Jalalabad to meet with local authorities for assistance in the reconstruction work. He was optimistic that with help Ghazni could complete "90 percent of the work on the city by the end of the year".
The city's conservationists and urban planners are not so sure. Asadullah Jalalzai, cultural expert, said, "Reconstruction of Ghazni airport, terminal, parks and historical sites cannot take place by opening a bank account. It needs strong financial backing."
He has requested local authorities to look for support among richer Islamic countries like Saudi Arabia, Iran, the United Arab Emirates and Pakistan.
However, Maulana Abdul Rahman Hakimi, a member of the Meshrano Jirga (upper house of National Assembly) from Ghazni, said monetary assistance from the government and international donors "can't be effective while there is insecurity in the province."
The Afghan Analysts Network's (AAN) guest blogger Thalia Kennedy says the Ministry of Information and Culture had to curtail ambitious regeneration and restoration plans for Ghazni because of the challenging security and political situation. The ISESCO (Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) nomination for 2013 is an opportunity for the city to showcase its cultural significance through tourism, events and exhibitions, both to its local inhabitants and to a wider audience. However given the continued fighting and political instability the usual activities associated with such celebrations may not be possible at Ghazni. Each year, three cities from around the world receive the title of City of Islamic Culture from ISESCO, supported by its 50-member states, drawn from the Organisation of the Islamic Conference. Kabul has been nominated in 2024.

Showcase history
A thriving Buddhist centre in the 6th and 7th centuries, Ghazni became an important trading portal to South Asia during the Islamic period, and experienced a time of considerable prosperity as the famed capital of the Ghaznavid dynasty. A number of monuments were built at this time in the city, including shrines, tombs, mosques and minarets. Photographs from the 1960s of the 10th-century tomb of Sultan Sebuktigin show its once-elaborate painted plasterwork interior and domed structure - whilst that of his son, Sultan Mahmud, was noted by the international traveller Ibn Battuta, who later passed through the city. The surrounding park in which Sultan Mahmud's mausoleum once stood remains an attraction for local visitors.
The minarets of Mas'ud III and Bahram Shah, located near the archaeological site of Mas'ud III's palace, with their flanged forms and geometric brickwork decoration, are often cited as technical and artistic masterpieces, and as the forerunners to the Qutb Minar in Delhi.
At its height, the Ghaznavid court was home to a number of important scholars and intellectuals, not least the poet Firdausi, compiler and author of the most famous version of the Shahnama, the historian al-Biruni, and Ibn Sina, author of medical treatises that were influential throughout Asia and Europe for over 600 years.
The 15th century baked-brick mausoleum of Ulugh Beg and 'Abd al-Razzaq, recorded in photographs over the last one hundred years, shows a continued mastery of architectural form into the Timurid period. Ghazni also saw more recent cultural prosperity following the construction of the Kabul to Kandahar road in the 1920s.
The AAN blogger, Kennedy, concludes that if successful, Ghazni may highlight its nomination as Islamic city of culture both on a local and national stage, and has a clear opportunity to promote the diversity and richness of its great past.


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