The National Museum of Afghanistan is reopened. Members of the Taliban once broke through the facility and destroyed the country’s irreplaceable national heritage. Now they are guarding buildings in the capital, Kabul.
Currently, about 50-100 people visit the museum every day, some of whom are members of the Taliban.
The museum houses artifacts from the Paleolithic to the 20th century. It reopened for the first time more than a week ago since the Taliban took over Afghanistan in mid-August during the disorderly withdrawal of American and NATO troops.
Its supervisor, Mohammad Fahim Rahimi (Mohammad Fahim Rahimi) and his staff have so far been allowed to continue their positions, although they, like many civil servants in Afghanistan, have not received a salary since August.
After the United States has frozen billions of dollars in Afghan assets and international financial institutions have cut funding for Afghan projects, Afghanistan has been facing a banking crisis.
Rahimi said that only the security personnel have changed. The Taliban now replaced the police team that once guarded the building and provided female security personnel to check on visiting women.
There were frequent power cuts, the museum’s generators broke down, and many exhibition halls fell into darkness.
On Friday, there were several Taliban among the tourists, some of whom had assault rifles on their shoulders, and they used the lights of their mobile phones to peer into display cases of ancient ceramics and 18th-century weapons.
“This is from our ancient history, so let’s take a look,” said Taliban fighter Mansour Zolfikar, who is 29 years old from Khost province in southeastern Afghanistan and has now been appointed to the Ministry of Interior A security guard.
“I’m very happy,” he said of his first visit to the museum, marveling at the national heritage of his country.
Zulfiqar said he spent 12 years in the notorious Pul-e-Charkhi prison in Kabul, which is the largest prison in Afghanistan. There, he said, someone told him about the museum and he dreamed that one day the Taliban would rule Afghanistan again and he would be able to visit the museum.
During the first time in power in the 1990s, the Taliban ransacked museums and smashed invaluable statues, especially those that it believed were incompatible with Islamic teachings. One of the artifacts, a remains of a limestone statue believed to be a king of the second century AD, stands at the entrance of the museum building and is now restored by French experts and the museum’s own restoration department.
In 2001, the Taliban, on the order of Taliban leader Mullah Mohamed Omar, destroyed two giant 6th-century Buddha statues carved on the cliffs of Bamiyan in central Afghanistan. This action aroused the indignation of the international community.
Therefore, as the Taliban swept Afghanistan earlier this year and occupied one province after another, people were seriously worried that a similar fate awaits the country’s cultural heritage, especially anything from the pre-Islamic era. At least so far, this does not seem to be the case.
Saifula, a 40-year-old Taliban member from Wardak Province and a teacher of a religious school, said that he believes that the destruction of museum artifacts in 2001 was carried out by lower-level Taliban members without high-level officials.
Saifula, who visited the museum for the first time, said that he would encourage his students to visit the National Museum of Afghanistan, some of which are now museum guards.
“Generations can learn from it, and they can also learn from it,” he said. “We have a rich history.”
Perhaps the new government of Afghanistan now agrees to the inscription engraved on a plaque outside the entrance of the museum building: “If the culture of a country is alive, its culture is alive.”