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.


Pakistan’s decision not to evacuate students ‘difficult but good’ – Chinese diplomat

Updated 21 February 2020

Pakistan’s decision not to evacuate students ‘difficult but good’ – Chinese diplomat

  • We are treating Pakistani students are as our own children, says Li Bijian
  • Repatriation of more than 50,000 Pakistanis from China may trigger another outbreak

KARACHI: The Chinese consul general in Karachi on Thursday said that Pakistan had taken “a very difficult but good decision” by not bringing back its nationals residing in China after the coronavirus outbreak.

“To evacuate or keep them there is a very difficult decision, and your government has made a tough choice by not bringing them back,” China’s top diplomat in Karachi, Li Bijian, said while addressing ‘Meet the Press’ program organized by the Karachi Press Club.

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday spoke to President Xi Jinping about the spread of coronavirus on the telephone. 

The conversation between the two leaders took place a day after parents of Pakistani students in China gave a three-day deadline to the government to evacuate their children from the coronavirus-hit country.

Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Health Dr. Zafar Mirza had announced the government’s decision not to evacuate Pakistani citizens stranded in China in accordance with the recommendations of the World Health Organization on January 30.
“The students are availing better facilities in China,” said the Chinese diplomat. “Our government is providing them everything they need to protect them from the virus. They are also getting the best assistance free of cost, including halal food. We are treating them like our own children.”

Bijian informed that more than 50,000 Pakistani workers and students were living in China and their repatriation could trigger another outbreak.

“The movement of people is highly restricted in China and, if you bring them back, there would be a risk of spread of the virus. The return of 50,000 people would also put a huge health pressure on your government and may cause an outbreak in this country,” he warned.

The Chinese consul general said that 6,000 foreign students, including 500 Pakistanis, were still living in Wuhan.

“Four students contracted the virus but they were released from the hospital about a week ago. Parents of Pakistani students worry about their safety which is understandable, but we can assure them that their children are in safe hands,” he added.

The death toll from coronavirus surpassed 2,000 this week. According to reports, more than 75,000 people have been infected by the virus, with over 1,000 cases outside mainland China.

“Ever since the outbreak of the virus, the Chinese government and people have joined hands to fight the outbreak. The government has been very open, transparent and responsible while dealing with the problem,” the Chinese diplomat said.

Bijian was confident that his government would completely overcome the spread of the virus by the end of March 2020 as measures taken by the government were showing good results.