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Buddhist relics worth millions seized in Pakistan

July 07, 2012

A man arranges seized ancient statues in a police station in Karachi.—AFP Photo
A man arranges seized ancient statues in a police station in Karachi.—AFP Photo

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani officials say police have seized a large number of ancient Buddhist sculptures that smugglers were attempting to spirit out of the country.

Salimul Haq, who is a director of the government's archaeology department, said Saturday that the artefacts likely would have fetched millions of dollars on the international antiquities market.

Police seized the relics Friday from a 20-foot container in the southern port city of Karachi that was being trucked north toward the capital, Islamabad.

The load included many sculptures of Buddha and other related religious figures that experts indicated could be over 2,000 years old.

The country's northwest was once part of Gandhara, an ancient Buddhist kingdom that stretched across modern-day Pakistan and Afghanistan and reached its height from the first to the fifth century.