Sunday, 13 August 2017

Stolen Gandharan Artefacts involved in Corruption Scandal Seized

In Pakistan, Customs officials in Sialkot were implicated in a foiled attempt to smuggle artefacts including Gandharan sculptures to Japan via Islamabad' (Bhagwandas Mohammad Asghar, ' Invaluable artefacts seized at Islamabad airport' Dawn, August 12, 2017).
In a report, the directorate-general said that six of the items recovered were genuine Gandhara pieces, he said. However, ten others were counterfeits.The export of such items was banned under Section 24(2) of Section 35 of the Antiquities Act, 1975, [....] While artefacts from Mahergarh and Naal in Balochistan were smuggled mostly to Europe, the Gandhara artefacts were in demand both in Europe, where the laws were relatively strict, and the Far East, particularly Japan, South Korea and Thailand. About 12 years ago, a Thai diplomat was caught trying to smuggle out Gandhara artefacts from Islamabad, Mr Qasim said. Smugglers now are increasingly using fresh routes, taking the artefacts to Dubai, which is a free port. From there the items were sent to their final destinations
Another paper comments on the case ( Editorial, 'Stolen Gandharan artefacts' The Express Tribune, August 13th, 2017.)
It requires high-level audacity to not only illegally acquire centuries-old precious artefacts for oneself, but to then smuggle them out of the country in attempts to profiteer. [...] Punjab and Islamabad, specifically, have been hotbeds of the looting and plundering style of corruption recently [...] the exporters, Japanese importers and the cargo company involved [must be] made an example out of to deter any such crime in the future. [...]  It is appalling that officials — especially those made responsible for maintaining the country’s welfare in some way — had the gall to profiteer from the precious artefacts that do not belong to them, but to the country and its rich heritage. 
Which outside agencies however are putting up the money which is used to corrupt state officials? Bribers are as much criminals as those who accept them. This is something dealers and their lobbyists wjho blame the illicit antiquities trade on 'corrupt local officials' should bear in mind.

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