National Geographic : 2002 Feb
of Persia, Alexander, Attila, Mahmud, Genghis Khan, Tamerlane, Babur. The number of dynasties domestic and foreign grew to more than a score. Mike Edwards remembers his From India in the third century B.C. came Buddhism with Asoka, a Peace Corps days inKabul inthe 1960s at nationalgeo bloody conqueror who became an evangelist of peace, renouncing the graphic.com/ngm/0202. killing of any living thing. Buddhism endured for hundreds of years, AOL Keyword: NatGeoMag time enough and more for artisans to carve soaring Buddhas in the rock of Bamian-statues gone forever, the last two destroyed by Taliban dynamite in March of last year. In turn, the Buddhists were engulfed by Islam, first brought eastward to Iran by Arabs, then to the Stans beginning about A.D. 700. Though still mainly Islamic, the Stans practice markedly dif ferent versions of the faith. In Pakistan conservative mullahs exhort street crowds with strident anti-U.S. rhetoric. Islam in the ex-Soviet Stans is mostly moderate, even lax. Uzbekistan, applying harsh Soviet-era rules, has jailed thousands of Muslims out of fear of an Islamic uprising aimed at supplanting the secular government. The Stans are shot through with such issues of human rights and governance. Pakistan is again under military rule. Rigid Soviet ways (one-party rule, a smothered press) have not vanished from the former Soviet regions. For most of the Stans the road to democracy looks long and uphill. Security may be no closer. ..... Nor peace.