KARACHI – Karachi police on Friday seized dozens of precious antiquities dating from ancient Gandhara civilisation, illegally dug from the country’s restive northwest. The Awami Colony police intercepted a container near Bilal Chowrangi area of Korangi and recovered artefacts from the container. Police also detained the truck driver and cleaner and shifted them to police station.
Police said worth of the artefacts would be determined when the government’s heritage department officials would give their opinions. They said the artefacts were about 2,000-year-old. The officer, while quoting the officials of the heritage department, said they had no report about missing or stealing of the artefacts from any museum, however, further investigation was underway. The officer said for the first time Karachi police had foiled the smuggling bid and recovered precious antiquities. No case was registered as the police was discussing the matter with their high-ups and the heritage officials.
Agencies add: The haul included statues of Buddha, life-sized idols, bronze artefacts, utensils and decorative plaques, Qasim Ali Qasim, director Sindh Archaeology Department told AFP.
Police intercepted a flatbed truck in Karachi and found the antiquities from the 2,000-year-old civilisation hidden under plastic and wooden items, officials said.
Qasim said he believed the items had been dug up in country’s northwestern areas and brought to Karachi a piece or two at a time, ready for dispatch to Europe overland via Afghanistan and Central Asia.
“The thieves and mafias involved in this business dig in the northwest, which is filled with Gandhara sites with little control by the authorities,” Qasim said.
“They dug up ancient pieces, accumulated them in Karachi and then sent them to Afghanistan in the garb of a Nato vehicle when they saw Pakistan has reopened the route.”
Gandhara was a Buddhist civilisation that flourished around the modern-day city of Peshawar and in parts of eastern Afghanistan.