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Australia returns illegally smuggled Bronze Age stone to Pakistan

The stone was handed over to Pakistan’s High Commissioner Zahid Hafeez Chaudhry at a ceremony. Image: APP

CANBERRA: In a diplomatic achievement for Pakistan, the government of Australia has returned an aniconic stone dating from the third millennium BCE, having originated in Balochistan.

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The stone was handed over to Pakistan’s High Commissioner Zahid Hafeez Chaudhry at a ceremony which was attended by senior officials from the Australian Office of the Arts, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Australian Border Force, INTERPOL Canberra, and the Australian Federal Police.

This is the first time that an object of cultural heritage from Pakistan has been returned by the Government of Australia under the UNESCO Convention.

The object was clandestinely excavated and illegally smuggled out of Pakistan. It was purchased online by an Australian resident from a seller in the United States and imported into Australia in July 2020.

The object was stopped for inspection by the Australian Border Force (ABF) and upon examination, it was found to be an authentic cultural heritage from Pakistan.

The High Commission for Pakistan had made a restitution request to the Australian Office of the Arts for the return of the object to its rightful owner under the UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Cultural Property 1970. Both Pakistan and Australia are signatories to the said Convention.

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High Commissioner Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri on the occasion appreciated the efforts of the Australian government in intercepting, retrieving and returning Pakistan of this immensely valuable cultural property from the Bronze Age.

He underscored the importance of close cooperation among countries against illicit trafficking in cultural property and reiterated Pakistan’s commitment to working with international friends and partners for the protection of common cultural heritage.


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