France returns looted relics to Pakistan

Archaeologist Aurore Didier points to some artifacts amongst the 445 from the 2nd and 3rd millennium BC which were seized by French customs between 2006 and 2007, during a ceremony at the Embassy of Pakistan in Paris (Reuters)
Updated 03 July 2019

France returns looted relics to Pakistan

  • Some relics dating as far back as 4,000 BC, with an estimated value of $157,000
  • 445 objects would be shipped back to Pakistan “within a few weeks”

Paris: France on Tuesday handed over to Pakistan nearly 450 ancient relics, some dating as far back as 4,000 BC, seized by French customs agents over a decade ago.





Rodolphe Gintz, head of French customs, and Muhammad Amjad Aziz Qazi, Deputy Head of Mission at the Embassy of Pakistan in Paris, sign official documents during a ceremony at the Embassy in Paris (Reuters)

Customs agents at Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport in 2006 intercepted a parcel from Pakistan containing 17 terracotta pots addressed to a museum in the city, claiming they were more than 100 years old.
But an expert who examined them concluded they were artefacts dating back to the second or third millennium BC which had likely been stolen from burial sites in Baluchistan, a province in southwest Pakistan.
Following an extensive investigation which lasted almost a year and involved a raid on the Paris gallery, investigators found a total of 445 items, some dating as far back as 4,000 BC, with an estimated value of 139,000 euros ($157,000).




A cameraman films some artifacts amongst the 445 from the 2nd and 3rd millennium BC which were seized by French customs between 2006 and 2007, during a ceremony at the Embassy of Pakistan in Paris (Reuters)

Among the items on display at the embassy to mark the handover were a series of beautifully-decorated pots, vases and jars, all painstakingly adorned with small, stylized motifs of animals, plants and trees.
There were also about 100 tiny ceramic figurines, as well as plates, bowls, and goblets, all of which had been illegally shipped out of Pakistan for sale to dealers abroad.
“This is very, very important for us,” said Abbas Sarwar Qureshi, head of chancery at the Pakistani embassy where France’s top customs official attended a formal handover ceremony.
“Some of the items are 6,000 years old from the Mehrgarh civilization,” he told AFP, referring to an era that predates the Indus Valley civilization which flourished around 3,000 BC before mysteriously disappearing.




Evelyne Sarti, deputy to the inter-regional director of Paris airport customs, looks at some artifacts which were seized by French customs between 2006 and 2007, during a ceremony at the Embassy of Pakistan in Paris (Reuters)

Aurore Didier, head of France’s archaeological mission in the Indus basin, said the ceramics came from illegally-excavated graveyards and were examples of two different cultures: the Nal (3100-2700 BC), and the Kulli (2600-1900 BC).
“For this period, very few sites have been documented and archaeologists stopped their work in Baluchistan in 2007 due to political issues in the area,” she told AFP.
Although not new or unique, they provided valuable evidence of a period where most of the remaining graves had been destroyed.
“For archaeologists, it’s very important because it’s the only evidence of funerary material from this period,” she said.
Qureshi said the 445 objects would be shipped back to Pakistan “within a few weeks,” although it was not immediately clear where they would be exhibited.


Ready to mentor Saudi cricketers on the kingdom’s request — Shahid Afridi

Updated 33 min 32 sec ago

Ready to mentor Saudi cricketers on the kingdom’s request — Shahid Afridi

  • Says cricket would be hugely popular in Saudi Arabia given that it is home to millions of Pakistani expats
  • Pakistani minister said this week Islamabad working on “practical steps” to promote cricket in Saudi Arabia 

KARACHI: Pakistani all-rounder and former skipper Shahid Khan Afridi has said he is ready to mentor Saudi cricketers if the kingdom seeks his help.
The comments come in the wake of a meeting between the ambassador of Saudi Arabia to Pakistan, Nawaf bin Said Al-Malki, and Pakistan’s Minister for Inter-Provincial Coordination, Dr. Fehmida Mirza, this month in which they discussed cooperation in the field of sports, with a focus on cricket.
“If I get a request [to train Saudi cricketers] I will definitely go as this is our own county and the people are our own,” Afridi said in an interview with Arab News at his home in Karachi this week.
The 40-year-old cricketer, fondly known as Boom Boom, captained the national team between 2009 and 2011, before retiring from international cricket in 2017. He is well-known for his philanthropic work across Pakistan and has formerly worked with UNICEF and a number of national organizations.
“I have been to Saudi Arabia previously,” he said, detailing his many trips to the Kingdom. “In my opinion there should be cricket [in Saudi Arabia]. There is our [Pakistani] community, which also likes to play cricket,” he said, referring to three million Pakistani expats who reside in the kingdom.
Pakistani minister Mirza said this week that Pakistan was working on “practical steps” to collaborate with Saudi Arabia to promote sports in the Kingdom, particularly cricket.
“I believe in sports diplomacy,” Mirza told Arab News in an interview on Monday. “The matter [of cooperation in cricket] has been taken with Ehsan Mani, chairman, Pakistan Cricket Board. We are working on practical steps to collaborate in promotion of sports, especially cricket.”
According to a statement issued by Mirza’s office, during her meeting with the Saudi ambassador last week, he said cricket was becoming popular in Saudi Arabia because of the Pakistan cricket team, which had a following in the country.
“We want to utilize Pakistan’s rich experience in the field of cricket and promote it in Saudi Arabia,” Al-Malki was quoted in the statement as saying.