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Australia returns smuggled precious stone to Pakistan

The stone was illegally excavated in Balochistan and then smuggled from Pakistan. Later, an Australian resident purchased the artifact from a seller in the US. However, the object was stopped for inspection by the ABF and upon examination was found to be Pakistan’s cultural property.

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Wednesday, Australia returned an illegally smuggled Bronze Age iconic artifact to Pakistan. This is a major achievement as it is the first time that an object of cultural heritage from Pakistan was returned by the Australian government under the UNESCO convention.

The Australian government gave the stone to Pakistan’s High Commissioner to Australia Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri at a ceremony. Senior officials from the Australian Office of the Arts, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Australian Border Force (ABF), INTERPOL Canberra, and the Australian Federal Police also attended the event.

Pakistan’s High Commissioner Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri thanked the Australian government for their efforts in retrieving and returning the object. He also underscored the importance of close cooperation among countries against illicit trafficking in cultural property.

“Extremely grateful to the Australian government for cooperation in interception, recovery, and handing over to Pakistan of its valuable cultural property from the Bronze Age,” he said.

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Interestingly, smugglers illegally excavated the stone in Balochistan. Later, an Australian resident purchased the artifact from a seller in the US. As a result, the seller then imported the artifact to Australia in July 2020.

However, ABF intercepted the artifact and found out that it belonged to Pakistan as an authentic cultural heritage.

Subsequently, the High Commission for Pakistan made a restoration 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.

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UK must return Koh-e-Noor to Pakistan

Pakistanis appreciated Australia returning the smuggled stone. They also demanded that the UK return the Koh-e-Noor to Pakistan.

Important to note, the British got hold of the 105-carat diamond in 1849 when the East India Company annexed the region of Punjab.

In 1947, India got independence from the British Empire, leading to the formation of two nations – India and Pakistan. Punjab was one of the states partitioned between the two sides. Therefore, both India and Pakistan laid claim to the diamond, and on numerous occasions demanded its return.