Ghazni declared as capital of Islamic civilisation
GHAZNI CITY (PAN): A much-awaited ceremony to declare Ghazni City as the Asian Capital of Islamic Culture and Civilisation began on Saturday in the southern province, amid tight security measures, officials said.
The week-long celebrations began at 10:20am at the governor’s office with recitation of some verses from the holy Quran, followed by playing the national anthem and reading out a message from President Hamid Karzai.
More than 2,000 people including Vice President Karim Khalili, foreign ministers of several Islamic and neighbouring countries as well as foreign diplomats and parliamentarians attended the opening ceremony amid tight security.
Ending April 19, the festival comes nearly five years after Ghazni City was selected to serve as the Asian Capital of Islamic Civilisation at a conference held in Tripoli, Libya in 2007 by the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (IESCO).
Ghazni, some 125 km south of Kabul, is home to minarets, shrines, old castles and forts and architecture dating back to Sultan Mahmud dynasty (975-1187 AD) and has been regarded as one of the cradles of Islamic civilisation.
Representatives from different countries and senior Afghan officials attended the ceremony. They included cabinet ministers, deputy ministers, senior advisor to President Karzai Naimatullah Shehrani, members of parliament, ambassadors of some foreign countries and provincial officials.
Tribal elders and people of Ghazni were also in attendance, said the governor’s spokesman, Fazal Sabawoon.
Shehrani read out Karzai’s message that congratulated Ghazni people and all Afghans on marking the event that he called a pride for them.
Karzai said Afghans proud of Ghazni for being a valuable historical region where historical objects and sites needed to protected and preserved for coming generations as one of their prime personalities.
Speaking at the launch of the ceremony, Governor Musa Khan Akbarzada said they had waited for years to see Ghazni serving as the capital of Islamic Civilisation. "Today our dream has become a reality with the launch of this historic ceremony," he remarked.
The governor asked the central government to promote Ghazni into as grade A province and made an appeal to the insurgents to shun violence and join peace process. He asked Muslim countries to mediate between the government and its armed opposition groups to end the aimless war in Afghanistan.
Security officials said a number of check posts have been established at entrances to the city in order to provide security for visitors.
Seen as a last chance for restoration of the crumbling ancient sites, the celebration came after reconstruction on some historical monuments was almost completed, with others still in different stages of completion.
The government has announced spending 200 million dollars to renovate sites and develop infrastructure in Ghazni. The projects include an airport and museum, roads, hotels, industrial parks and renovation of historical monuments.
But lawmakers and local residents have complained many projects could not be completed due to a slow-paced work blamed on encroachment by developers and unregulated heavy traffic around many sites.
The ceremony is celebrated, thanks to Mahmud of Ghazni (971 -1030), the most prominent ruler of the Ghaznavid dynasty who brought together Islam, the Persian language and the Turkish art of war in an empire that once stretched from today's Iran to India.
Mahmud turned the city into a thriving capital by inviting artists, writers and scholars from all over Central Asia to the court.
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