ISLAMABAD - In a major diplomatic achievement for Pakistan, the government of Australia returned to the government of Pakistan an an iconic stone weight dating from 3rd millennium BCE, having originated in Balochistan.

This is the first time that an object of cultural heritage, stolen and smuggled from Pakistan has been returned by the government of Australia under the UNESCO Convention.

The stone weight was handed over to Pakistan’s High Commissioner Zahid Hafeez Chaudhry at a ceremony 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 in Canberra.

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.

Pakistan High Commissioner to Australia while giving the background information of the stone told the Nation on phone that the object was stopped for inspection by the Australian Border Force (ABF) and upon examination, it was found to be authentic cultural heritage from Pakistan.

Zahid Hafeez said he 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.

The high commissioner, on the occasion appreciated the efforts of the Australian government in intercepting, retrieving and returning to Pakistan of this immensely valuable cultural property from the Bronze Age.

The high commissioner also reiterated Pakistan’s commitment to working with international friends and partners for the protection of common cultural heritage.