Obliterating Pakistan’s Buddhist heritage.
By Joachim Hoelzgen for Spiegel Online, with thanks to Fjordman:
Some 35,000 petroglyphs located in Pakistan’s Indus River area will soon be flooded by a giant dam. An archeologist from Heidelberg is trying to save as much as he can before encroaching modernity destroys the remote area’s cultural history.
At first sight, it’s difficult to tell whether the work going on near Nanga Parbat mountain (8,126 meters, 26,660 feet) has more to do with preserving the world or heralding its demise.
Down by the Indus River, near a farmers’ settlement called Basha, workers have built landing sites for helicopters. They have set up a cargo cablecar above the stream and technicians on the northern banks are drilling holes into the rock in order to search out hollow spaces in the depths. This being an earthquake zone, seismic analyses are also being conducted.
Here, in an oppressively narrow and steep canyon, construction of a gigantic dam is planned — as high as a skyscraper and kept in place by its sheer weight. The future power plant’s turbines are to yield 4,400 megawatts of electricity — the capacity of four nuclear power plants. Behind the retaining wall, a reservoir will flood 32 villages and force as many as 40,000 people to undergo evacuation in the name of progress.
But the reservoir will also bury beneath itself the witnesses of entire civilizations and ancient cultures along the Indus — mainly stony messages and images from Buddhist times, whose loss is fully comparable to that of the famous Buddhas of Bamyan, which were demolished with explosives by the Taliban in March 2001.