U.S. Embassy Kabul Announces Contribution to National Museum of Afghanistan

Posted by Laura Tedesco
March 17, 2011
Man Takes Photograph of Artifact at National Museum of Afghanistan

On March 15, 2011, at a ceremony at the National Museum of Afghanistan, hosted by His Excellency, Minister Makhdoom Raheen of the Ministry of Information and Culture (MOIC), the United States pledged $5 million to support the MOIC's vision for planning, designing and constructing a new museum building. The MOIC will also commit $2 million to support the new museum building.

In a ceremony held in the Nuristani room at the National Museum of Afghanistan today, Ambassador Karl W. Eikenberry joined Minister Raheen to announce the development of a master plan which will lay out a strategy to improve the condition of the National Museum as well as the collections and cultural heritage it houses.

The proposed new museum building will have state of the art security, conservation and administrative space and will include beautiful new exhibition space. The parcel of land for the site of the new museum building was donated by the Ministry of Defense.

"The United States stands strong with our Afghan partners on vital issues of cultural heritage and national pride. An exciting new National Museum will contribute to the development of a renewed Afghan national identity, the growth of a peaceful Afghan civil society, and be at the foundation of the social reconciliation process," said U.S. Ambassador Karl W. Eikenberry, who attended the ceremony.

The proposed new building will one day serve as the home of the "Hidden Treasures of Afghanistan" exhibition currently traveling the world. The exhibit, which includes examples of carved ivories from Bagram, gold jewelry worn by ancient nomads, and Hellenistic sculptures found in Northern Afghanistan, among other treasures, is currently on display in London at the British Museum. The exhibit toured various museums in the United States in 2008 and 2000.

Attendees at the ceremony were also treated to the first viewing of the new exhibition at the National Museum titled "Along the Silk Road -- Recent Excavations from Mes Aynak." This exhibit at the National Museum was funded by the U.S. Embassy in Kabul and was organized by the National Museum staff. It displays some of the most remarkable objects recovered so far in the ongoing excavations at Mes Aynak.

Mes Aynak, located in Logar Province, is the site of a recent archaeological discovery. Buddhist artifacts dating from between the first and eighth century AD have been recovered there. The site is collocated with the world's second largest copper deposit and Afghan and international teams of archaeologists are working to recover as much cultural heritage from this site as possible before mining operations begin in 2014.

Minister Raheen said during his remarks, "My vision is for a museum that will be an even greater source of pride for Afghans from all regions. Afghans need a museum so that our children can learn about our nation's rich cultural history at the crossroads of East and West."

The U.S. Embassy in Kabul has also pledged at least $1 million to fund a three-year museum partnership with an American institution in order to facilitate training and capacity building for the National Museum staff.

The Afghan National Museum was founded in 1919. The museum was destroyed by rockets in 1994. It was rebuilt in 2004 with contributions from the international community. The current Museum Director, Mr. Omara Khan Masoudi, expressed thanks to all the individuals who contributed their expertise and shared their time and attention in support of the existing museum, which has served as an important symbol of Afghan cultural heritage.



New Mexico, USA
March 22, 2011

Eric in New Mexico writes:

Afghan antiquities are just as important to Afghan's sense of self as a people as it was for King Zahir Shah to return and say it was time they had democracy, declining to be king.

Well George Washington did the same, and there's honor among peoples.

Sometimes though I think the Afghan people don't always appreciate our justice system and its history.

Reason being is that justice has generally been served up publicy at the local level for a long time now, being that they don't have a cell to put someone in for twenty years for murder, let alone feed him.

So pardon if I be a bit off topic, but I think the mistakes we make in targeting are threatening the entire mission.

I've been saying this to my government since 2005, and I should have to relay this story only once face to face with a member of my government for them to get it.

"If you are my friend and I pinch your arm hard so it hurts, you would pull it away, yes?" an Afghan friend once asked.

And pinched me to demonstrate.

"And how many times must I pinch you like that for you stop me?""I get it." I said.

We were discussing the bombing of a wedding party at the time, early on about 2002 or so.

It pains me greatly to hear of children gathering firewood being mistaken for a legitimate target of opportunity.

Among a number of mistakes.

After all this time I guess I better come up with a solution for you'all at head of the spear, as much as hate telling people how they might want to go about dealing with the repercussions, and put and end to it.

If it be found that the one pulling the trigger should stand court marshal, it may be a choice be given the accused upon sentencing, having been found guilty of negligence resulting in loss of life and dereliction of duty. his choice between Levensworth and the lash.

The latter in the ammount of a hundred, to be carried out with the families of the deceased present, that they may ask the lash be spared at any point, or not. In public.

And that an Afghan deliver the sentence.

This would be the choice by free will of the guilty in chosing his sentence, but in chosing the latter, every mark he would bear from then on would have helped his nation earn the trust and respect of the Afghan people.

This along with half his pay and severance to go to the next of kin.

There's a way to regain honor and trust when mistakes threaten it.

I can't say as this would improve our targeting any, but it sure would provide incentive.

I know this also may seem a bit "cruel and unusual" in terms of our own values, but it's the best I can come up with that will help solve our problem with "collateral damage".

If we don't get this problem straitened out now, it will undo the civilian effort when the Afghan people can no longer consider us to be friends.

I gotta hand it to the Afghan people, they've been really patient in their fed up'edness over it.

I've tried to be, but I can't sin by silence either.



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