Drawing experts from across the globe, the International Conference on Moenjodaro and Indus Valley Civilisation kicked off Thursday morning near the archaeological site.

The three-day conference was hosted at a venue near the ruins of the historic city of Moenjodaro.

The last time an event on the historic site of this scale took place was in the 1970s under former prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto's leadership, the audience at the commencement ceremony was informed.

Read more: What controversies surround the Indus Valley Civilisation?

Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah, the guest of honour at the conference, said that Bhutto "put Moenjodaro on the international map".

He also said the incumbent government will fund and facilitate experts with whatever research work they need to conduct about the archaeological site.

Renowned archaeologist and former secretary of the Sindh Department of Antiquities, Dr Kaleemullah Lashari, said in his keynote address that mass excavation of the site is needed to unearth and discover how the people of the Indus civilisation disposed off their dead.

"We haven't found any cemetery at Moenjodaro yet. We still need to establish whether the natives buried their dead," Lashari said, adding that if further research and excavation is thoroughly funded, Moenjodaro could be established as the largest site from the Bronze Age in the world.

The keynote speaker, known for his pioneering work on stone-carved graves, further pointed out that "the looting of antiquities is a menace", resulting in a loss of precious artefacts.

"The government needs to implement tougher measures to curtail this practice," Lashari added, saying lawmakers need to formulate effective policies to curb the "smuggling" of antiquities and artefacts.

United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) Pakistan Director Vibeke Jensen reiterated the significance of Moenjodaro, saying the heritage site was once "the metropolis of the Indus Valley Civilisation".

"It is now our responsibility to protect it," she added, informing the audience about the vulnerability of the site left at the peril of unsupervised "human activity".

The site infrastructure also needs to be restored, Jensen said as she appreciated the "renewed interest" of the provincial government in the heritage site.

"The more people learn about the ancient civilisation, the more they'll do to preserve it," the Unesco director said.

"We need to invite local investors and turn this place into a tourist site," Jensen said, adding that if the ruins are given due attention and care, it could become "the most sought-after" tourist spot among foreigners.

The Unesco directer also added that the youth needs to be educated about the site and the ancient civilisation that inhabited it.

"We need to devise plans so students can come here to learn," she said, adding that the place could also become a popular attraction for families where they could relax while absorbing the rich history of the land.

Various other sessions were scheduled for the day, and several research papers were also to be presented in the conference.

PPP's provincial president Nisar Ahmed Khuhro and the Sindh Minister for Culture Syed Sardar Ali Shah were among those attending the conference.


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