Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Thursday, August 17th, 2017

Misuse of Archaeological Sites

The archaeological sites within a country are basically the traditional wealth of a country and belong to the whole nation. These sites should be guarded properly and should be used as a national treasure depicting rich historical facts and at the same time attracting national and international audience who are interested in studying them. Their worth should not be gauged in monetary terms alone as they have intrinsic value and in certain cases they may be worthless in their importance within a cultural and historical heritage of a nation. Unfortunately, many of historical sites and artifacts are being gauged as per their monetary value and there are people who take advantage of the phenomenon and use their power and wealth to possess them or buy them to satiate their thirst for social status or to use them for business.
The countries where there is a worth for such artifacts and where there is stability and rule of law, the chances that the people use their power and wealth to possess them for their personal prestige and business is very low. However, the nations that do not have proper understanding of the worth of such artifacts and do not have rule of law and security, mostly suffer because of the dominance of the powerful individuals who are difficult to stop to use the national and historical heritage for their self-centered motives. Unfortunately, Afghanistan is one of the same type of nations. Though it possesses a rich wealth of historical heritage and archaeological site, some individuals, blinded by power and wealth, utilize them with wrong intentions.
A recent news report disclosed that powerful individuals and government departments have usurped lands containing important archaeological sites in northeastern Badakhshan province.
Residential plots have been constructed on the land, part of which has been converted into a graveyard, according to a statement by the director of Information and Culture, Syed Hussain Naheeb, who has called the grabbing of historical sites a violation of the law. He has also said that efforts are underway to take the sites back and start useful work on them.
It is really unfortunate to note that the government authorities and organizations themselves have not been very much careful about the rich traditional remains and artifacts. This clearly shows that there are culprits within Afghan authorities who have been involved in the filthy business of selling their traditional treasures. It is impossible to imagine that the artifacts could reach to the Black Market without the support of the responsible authorities. Moreover, the instability and the absence of a particular system to take care of such treasure also help in their smuggling. After the downfall of Taliban who did not have any intention to safeguard historical sites; rather played a heinous role in destroying such sites (like, they did in Bamyan by destroying the historical Buddha statue), there were expectations that there would be some efforts to value such sites and items appropriately; however, the expectations could not be fulfilled and now we have reached to a situation wherein the government authorities and organizations are themselves involved in misusing the sites. 
The insensitive attitude of the Afghan authorities themselves in this regard is unfortunate and the government needs to play a tremendous role to make sure that they themselves start guarding their tradition and culture. Definitely, there have been many other problems, more basic in nature, for Afghans to ponder upon and spend time on but now when they are in a better position they must play their role.
The cultural heritage and historical treasure can play a tremendous role in uplifting the feelings of national splendor in the members of Afghan society. However, many years of civil wars and clashes have had severe impacts on Afghanistan's socio-political scenario. These wars and clashes have influenced the country in so many different ways. There have not been losses only in life and blood but in culture, tradition and values, as well. It is believed that for a civilization to flourish, it is necessary that there should be peace, tranquility and stability. Unfortunately Afghanistan has suffered in this regard. Though there has been relative peace and stability and there have been efforts to reestablish the Afghan society in the last decade, a lot more has to be achieved to make a real difference in Afghan society. It is necessary, at the present scenario, that Afghanistan must have a sense of national integration and harmony. It must be reiterated for the people of Afghanistan that they once had a rich culture and civilization and they had times in their history that knew nothing of violence and terrorism and a relatively peaceful and rich civilization flourished on their land.
Moreover, this should be insisted for them that they have to preserve the traces and remains of their rich history that should help the new generations realize the worth of their history and tradition. Unfortunately such insistence is very rare to see in the society where most of the discussions are centered on clashes and terrorism.