The Pakistani government accuses unknown dealers of smuggling a large number of antiques to United States, United Kingdom, Italy and France. Federal Minister for Information and National Heritage Pervaiz Rashid said as many as 39 artifacts of Pakistan origin had been repatriated from USA in 2007 while two cases in the United States were pending for want of a bilateral agreement for repatriation of the cultural heritage artifacts. The minister added that the United Kingdom’s customs authorities had seized 198 artifacts smuggled from Pakistan.
The case was taken up with the UK customs authorities through Pakistani embassy and finally the artifacts were handed over to Pakistani embassy in London by the UK customs authorities in 2007. The antiquities are still in custody of the embassy. In a similar case, 96 Pakistan-origin antiquities smuggled to Italy were seized by the Italian police and after successful efforts the Italian government handed over the same to Pakistani embassy in Rome. Case for return of 45 antiquities has been taken up in the local court of Paris under Unesco Convention through the Pakistani embassy.An Antiquities Trade Control Office has been established with branches in Karachi, Quetta, Gilgit, Peshawar, Taxila, Multan and Lahore to control smuggling of antiquities and illegal excavations on archaeological sites.
The minister said the department had taken all possible measures for preservation, safety and upkeep of the sites and monuments under its control and deputed watch and ward staff on important archaeological sites. Besides, the government had undertaken extensive archaeological surveys and research in the country for documentation of the archaeological sites. Professionals had been trained to help control and identify the sites that are vulnerable to smugglers.Source:
Inamullah Khattak, 'Large number of artifacts smuggled to US, EU: Pervaiz' The Nation 7th August 2015.