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Millionaires unveil Pakistan’s artefact smuggling secrets

Published Aug 09, 2012 07:30am


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A visitor takes photographs on his mobile of seized ancient statues at a museum in Karachi.  – Photo by AFP
A visitor takes photographs on his mobile of seized ancient statues at a museum in Karachi. – Photo by AFP

CHARSADDA: When a family dispute over land degenerated into cold-blooded murder, Zaman Khan was quickly in over his head.

As cousins killed cousins, he borrowed more than 18,500 dollars to buy guns, ammunition and guards. But soon debtors were demanding repayment, leaving him so depressed he contemplated suicide.

Then a friend came up with an idea.

He took Khan to a site in northwest Pakistan which dates back to the ancient Gandhara civilisation where they dug up 18 pieces of statue, selling them to market traders for two million rupees.

After two more visits, Khan – AFP has changed the names of all those involved in the trade – had found enough statues, coins and ornaments to not only settle his debts but also bankroll his long-running feud.

Thirty years on, he presides over a lucrative trade in illegally excavated treasures, smuggled to Thailand, Europe and America as part of Pakistan’s sophisticated but underworld business in archaeological remains.

“I can fight against my enemies and my friends’ enemies now. I’ve earned millions of rupees from this business,” he said, sitting next to a dozen automatic weapons in Charsadda, 130 kilometres from Islamabad.

Pakistan is home to two ancient civilisations, the Indus, which dates back to between 2500 and 1700 BC, and the Gandhara, from 530 BC to 1021 AD. It is the Gandhara artefacts that are most highly prized.

Statues of the Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama, who was born in Nepal in the 6th century BC and whose teachings grew into a major religion, can fetch thousands of dollars across the world.

“Whenever I’m on a digging mission, I pay 10,000 rupees to the relevant police station as a bribe in advance and 1,000 rupees a day while the work continues,” said Khan.

He sells the artefacts to dealers in Peshawar.

“Then they sell them to dealers in Islamabad and other cities who then export them to Thailand,” he said.

“To smuggle it from Peshawar to Islamabad, they use ladies, who aren’t usually checked by police at the security posts.”

– ‘Each Buddha sells for $20,000’ –

Smuggler Raja Javed has customers in Peshawar, Thailand and Japan.

“I’ve been doing this business for the last 20 years. I have sold hundreds of art pieces worth millions of rupees,” he told AFP at his plush villa, just metres from the museum in the Gandharan city of Taxila.

Spread over almost an acre, the grounds of his home include lawns and guest houses, while the main residential building has the kind of huge dome usually found on tombs of Mughal kings and sufi saints.

“At a minimum I’ve sold 20 big Buddha statues (weighing 40 to 80 kilograms). Each piece sold for around 20,000 dollars,” said Javed.

He does not believe what he does should be treated as a crime, but that the government should buy artefacts at market value.

The law forbids anyone from moving or selling any archaeological artefacts – statues, gold coins, jewellery or utensils – even if they are unearthed on their own property.

“They are the property of the government,” said Mehmoodul Hassan, a senior official of the archaeology department.

“Anybody who moves or sells an artefact can face imprisonment of up to five years, or a fine of 500,000 rupees ($5,300) or both.”But in the smuggling business, it is all about who you know.

In Peshawar jewellery market, a hub for Afghan and Pakistani dealers, Javed and Khan’s main contact said: “One piece can cost up to $10 million, it depends on the quality, state and history of the particular piece.

“I can arrange dozens of precious originals and copies for you, but transportation is hard,” he told an AFP reporter who posed as a buyer wanting Buddha statues for London.

Fakes and replicas are another aspect of the trade.

In Taxila, which continues to attract foreign visitors despite the terror threat in Pakistan, one sculptor chisels Buddha statues from new stone and paints them in mud to make them look ancient.

“I can provide you copies and replicas of any statue you want” he said, showing off his handiwork. “I am an expert at making fasting Buddha and the goddess.”

– The ‘king’ of antiques smuggling –

Customs officials say they have cracked down on the smugglers.

“The whole system is computerised now and the chances of corruption are rare,” said Riffat Shaheen Qazi, a customs spokeswoman.

“Some individuals might be involved in smuggling artefacts but we’re trying to curb this menace.” But an interviewee for this article suggested the names of two people in Islamabad with a gallery in Thailand who could help transport artefacts abroad.

One of them lives in a fort-style farmhouse in the mountains between Islamabad and the summer hill resort of Murree.

Sporting a beard, and wearing a blue kurta with baggy white trousers and a yellow necklace, the man said his activities had become harder to carry out, but by no means impossible. “I smuggled antiques in my hand luggage while boarding a flight. But it has become much more difficult now. In the past, we sent a lot of huge items abroad, but now everything is scanned.”

Even so, he added: “If you want to buy anything, contact my son in Bangkok. We also have a person in London, he can serve you there, but don’t try to make a deal over here in Pakistan.” Otherwise, he suggested Afghan smugglers might be able to help. “It has been four decades now,” he said. “I am a pioneer of this business, I am king.”


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Comments (88) Closed

Aziz Aug 09, 2012 08:53am
The policemen and other petty officials earn a few thousand, the middlemen a few hundred thousand, the head crimininals earn a few millions. The only loser is Pakistan- its national treasures worth billions are lost for ever. We do not need external enemies. We can do their job much better. Surely this is not a one-man or few men enterprise. The conspiracy of silence is sickening. It takes a foreign news organisation to lift the veil on this crime. The scale of looting of the region must be phenomenal.
Abbasi Aug 09, 2012 08:31am
Corrupt leadres and corrupt society where else this can keep on going.
Ali Aug 09, 2012 01:25pm
This is just so painful to read. The fact that they brag about it too says a lot about the state of our society. These pieces should be in museums, when we finally get our act together both local and foreigners can learn about our history and our culture. Sad, very sad!
m khan Aug 09, 2012 09:15am
For someone to be involve in this crime and brag about it is beyond comprehension, thanks to our police and law inforcement criminals are calling themselves kings. Extremely painful and insulting for a common citizen with an ounce of brain.
Irfan Husain Aug 09, 2012 10:11am
Yet another indication of a state incapable of imposing its rules and laws.
Tariq Aug 09, 2012 10:25am
As with everything else in Pakistan no one gives a damn about looting the country but themselves which trickles down from the top to the bottom!
Sameer Awan Aug 09, 2012 11:25am
These people are are real thieves of history and their regions. In my view these smugglers deserve death and nothing else who are depriving Pakistan of their own greed and our history is lost on a daily basis.
Osama Aug 09, 2012 12:16pm
This is inhumane. Is there no one from the govt side to take a little care of our priceless heritage? A few days ago I saw a picture of small kids playing cricket at the remains of Harrappa Civilization! I was bewildered. I live in Sri Lanka and know that the buddist people here do not have a very low image of Pakistan i.e. they are not reluctant to visit pakistam. Here is a great opportunity to earn dollars for free by spending a few pennies on these centuries old sites to convert them into tourist attractions. I am really hopeful that the new govt may exploit this treasure.
Ixion Aug 09, 2012 02:16pm
I view them as showing the creativity of Almighty's creation. To a common man though, they aren't history but just statues; or a paycheck to a specialist thief.
Desi Aug 09, 2012 02:17pm
For some reason I feel these invaluable artifacts are better off being smuggled out, where they can be preserved and appreciated!
ShaukatFarooq Aug 09, 2012 02:20pm
The Chief of Archeology department should be questioned for being ignorant about the locations of these treasures and failing to raise alarm at all the available forums including media.In fact this department should be prosecuted.The big question is who will prosecute.Prosecuters are the FACILITATORS.
Sumeet Aug 09, 2012 02:23pm
Absolutely Shameful... Pakistani's should be proud of their Hindu and Indian Roots and cherish the legacy passed on to us by our forefathers. The duplicity of it all is the fact that they don't want to acknowledge their Indian roots(Oh!! We have Arab/Persian ancestery!!) but are readily willing to profit from it!!! Absolutely, Disgraceful !!!!
Raj Aug 09, 2012 02:28pm
Gautam Buddha was not born in Nepal, but in India. is real name was Siddhart was born in a royal family.
Maryiam Aug 09, 2012 02:40pm
This article shows poor leadership by Pakistani leaders. We need a reformer! A leader who would cleanse the system and make it a strong one and save Pakistan from drowning any further. May Allah Bless Pakistan and make it a Nation everyone would want to live in!
Kalyan Aug 09, 2012 05:09pm
Is this cultural heritage being taught in schools to Pakistani children? A famous character in the epic Mahabharatha was Gandhari, the daughter of the King of Gandhara who blindfolded herself when she married Dhritarashtra. Her brother was Shakuni. These kind of tales and heritage taught at school are very important in preserving a country's heritage.
Asif Iqubal Shah Aug 09, 2012 05:35pm
Is it Pakistan's history or Ancient Indian History?
Ali Aug 09, 2012 05:46pm
This is sad to read such practices are going on for decades. I just can't fathom how can people live peacefully after committing such crimes. The criminals have built empires and its hard to believe that no one questioned them. I guess money pays even the ones who cared. Just sad
p kumar Aug 09, 2012 06:12pm
part of the reason behind the official apathy could be religious sentiments against statues in which case the government could donate them to other countries where they could be safeguarded while still remaining official pakistani iran though,buddha and other statues are greatly revered.
p kumar Aug 09, 2012 06:14pm
taliban destroyed buddhas with explosives.this is a more novel way to get rid of them
manish Aug 09, 2012 07:21pm
brother forbid me for saying this, but i think he is doing a great duty to humanity, by sending these artefacts out of pakistan. because this way, the artefact's safety is ensured. also, they are in the hand of people, who could bestow them the respect that these statues deserve. for in pakistan, in case of any eventuality, these artefacts are going to be the first items to be desecrated.. also, shorn of these pre-islamic heritage, most of your countrymen, can claim with more evidence that they are descendents of arabs. otherwise these artefacts embarass them, as they tell about pre-islamic times, when this land did have some people, who were capable of showing their imagination over mountains.....these statues do not conform to the doctrine of jahiliya completely. either way mate, with or without these artefacts, pakistan is on the loosing side.
Asim Aug 09, 2012 07:31pm
its alot more irritating that our so called .... Free Media... ( which is more interested in veena malik and aamir liyaaqat ) than the real issues to the state and the general public... ( aam awaam ), forget about the potliticians.. and police... we dont expect any good from them...
Azhar Ali Lilak Aug 09, 2012 07:38pm
Shame on you fellow. Its mentality like yours which has devoured this countrys beauty and turned into chaos of desperation where most important things no longer decency but money. Hope you can carry your palaces and other accomplishments to hell with you.
haris Aug 09, 2012 08:54pm
i was art student in Rochester, i know the real value of these arts work....
Mohammed Aug 09, 2012 08:58pm
its millions / Billions Pakistan govt don't want to secure due to Islamic nation, Pakistan history which show this land or we are people belongs to non Muslim, is it true we should not forget our past and .i don't think it will possible so better govt should protect our historical places and respect communities which belongs to our past whether its hindu or budhist.
Pardesi Aug 09, 2012 09:00pm
Evrything is taken out of our beautiful country what is left more to steal. Shame........where are we heading?
abdulkader Aug 09, 2012 09:19pm
Osama, our country is islamic nation, Govt and Islamic fundamentalist policy to remove our complete history as well as convert sindu / hindu into Islam , due to that whole world scared to visit pakistan and top up our country known for heaven of terrorist activity, so protecting heritage and idols are waste of time...better and let them sell to indian and srilanka where people understand and respect our past.
American Aug 09, 2012 10:15pm
When you can sell Nuclear centrifuges without fear of law or punishment, what to talk about poor Buddha statues in the Islamic Republic of the Pure.
Javed Aug 09, 2012 10:41pm
Please don't blame rulers.Those poor people are too busy in saveing their own ill gotten billions.Why should they worry about a few millions worth of artefacts as ther personal billions are at stake.Poor rulers have to work day and night to amend constitution to protect their wealth,in addition to find ways how to disobay sentences passed agains't them and many more things as such.They even have to plan how to take a safe exist themselves and bring in new faces,such as their sons to make a clean sweep of the country.Please have pity on them.
Sayed haider Aug 09, 2012 10:55pm
It is not just the polic or the customs who are on the take and look the other way but the politicians have to be involved to give protection. It is big money game and smugglers are having great time when the only concern that occupies the higher ups is how to portect their seats and make money. Non of these fellows give a damn about country's heritage. One should check out the palaces of our leaders in Europe and Dubai that are full of such artifacts.
andleeb Aug 09, 2012 10:56pm
These are kafir artifacts and should not get any special treatment in Pakistan. The earlier we get rid of them, the better for us.
vikram Aug 09, 2012 11:08pm
Any way... pakistan is muslim country. So they should not bother about this relics.
I=SLAM Aug 09, 2012 11:09pm
Dig up and sell everything. This is one way to clear traces of Hinduism/Buddhism history form the land of pure! What a way to Islamise this country! Is Govt. really so apathetic? Ofcourse not! Try staling anything Islamic and see the reaction..
Sajjad Aug 09, 2012 11:40pm
Pakistan should enact laws similar to the one's in Thailand. One can get death penalty if found guilty of smuggling ancient artifacts.
A. Raza Aug 09, 2012 11:47pm
Facinating. I suppose, the Pakistanis after looting the cultural wealth of the nation and making millions in the authority assisted underground trade, have decided to 'expose' this business. The money making and looting of Gandhara was investigated and written in April of 2011. See Letter from Pakistan: "Spoils of War". Excavating the underground Trade in Buddhist Antiquities. By Shahan Mufti, in Harpers magazine Aprl 2011. (This is an American socially progressive, over a 100 years old monthly publication). Read this article and weep (I have been doing my.weeping, quiety - for decades). Does any one in Pakistan care for anything in Pakistan?
asif junaid Aug 10, 2012 12:00am
But pakistanis have taught another history where there is no mention of these things. All these booth are black era and this person is doing great work making pakistan pure.
Ajaya K Dutt Aug 10, 2012 12:22am
It is idols used for worshipping. it should be destroyed In true Islamic tradition; and if in the process some body is making money, then why this regret.
Masood Hussatn Aug 10, 2012 01:38am
This illegal trade is gong on since last fifty to sixty have been appearing in local and foreign papers.some small fries are arrested andreleased matter is hushed up and that is all. there have never been any law in the country which can help ingetting to the real criminals.
Zeeshan Aug 10, 2012 01:41am
what are you talking about, what history? These statues were buried, forgotten like dirt and nobody cared. Why didn't Pakistan (or doesn't it even now) take charge back then of such artifacts?
Sundar Agrawal Aug 10, 2012 02:00am
Maybe it is not so bad. At least history of great people of Gandhara is preserved somewhere in the world, may it be the west or Thailand. Otherwise sooner or later these artifacts would be found and obliterated by Islamists to purify the infidel lands. This has happened in Southasia since 1000 years. Modern testament to that is what happened with Bamiyan aftermath in Afghanistan and then Pakistan in swat region was destruction of millions of statues and rock engravings. Afghanistan museum didn't stand the Taliban destruction. Without realizing perhaps these smugglers are preserving human history for all of us.
Ayaz Aug 10, 2012 02:30am
Pakhtuns have forgotten that we all were Buddhist at some point .... they are destroying their heritage. In their love for Arab invaders they forgot their ancestors....
Amit-Atlanta-USA Aug 10, 2012 02:43am
One of the fundamental reasons Pakistan clandestinely allows this trade is b'coz it wants to erase all traces of its glorious Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh tradditions and claim that it had always been .....the land of the pure....Pakistan.
Mohammad Arif Aug 10, 2012 02:47am
My friends, this is not new or nothing is surprising that the peoples are selling our history. They are already selling the whole contrary since 60 years. There is one group of peoples who is ruling Pakistan since beginning. These 2 % peoples those hearts do not belongs to Pakistan and they were always in the power and unfortunately the worst and most corrupt peoples are governing Pakistan at the moment. So what we can expect. GOD BLESS PAKISTAN
GPK Aug 10, 2012 03:02am
At least these artifacts will be safe in the countries they are smugled in to. In Pakistan, one day or the other, they will become headless or limbless as Pakistanis feel proud to be idol smasher!
Cyrus Howell Aug 10, 2012 03:47am
"I’ve earned millions of rupees from this business.” Of course because he doesn't produce anything he just steals from the country. Well, someone has to do it.
Cyrus Howell Aug 10, 2012 03:58am
Azair Baloch has 63 outstanding warrants against him. He has never been arrested once. It is easier to be a thief in Pakistan than work, so long as you are ready, willing and able to pay off the police to look the other way. Show me one policeman in Pakistan who doesn't take money. Stealing is easy when there is no fear of being caught. I don't understand why anyone in Pakistan wants to make a honest living.
Guest Aug 10, 2012 04:30am
The land of pure is getting pure day by day
Fahd Gauhar Aug 10, 2012 05:05am
Hats off to the authorities who claim that the new computerized system is a remedy for all this. Yet again, the Pakistani government seems successful in keeping the general masses busy in the fight for survival, the grand quest of getting access to basic amenities, etc. As a result, an ordinary Pakistani doesn't have the time to bother about important national matters that affect the image of the country in the global arena.
Mandy Aug 10, 2012 05:08am
This is highly despicable. Because the smugglers themselves say that smuggling artefacts has become diffcult, the goverment's efforts are commendable. The government should preserve all these sites and make them tourist attractions. Moreover, these artefacts can be moved to museums. They can be loaned to other countries for exhibitons which in itself will generate revenue.
Fiyaz Aug 10, 2012 05:51am
Real culprits behind the historical gold should be unveiled and bring them to justice
ahmed Aug 10, 2012 06:26am
i m resident of nearby village to Taxila Museum, and known some village fellows whose such business spreads across country and Japan. they have made handsome money and living luxrious life. i observed that some official's BEGUMS are involved and business partners of such smugglers for the obvious reasons.
Ahmad Nadeem Syed Aug 10, 2012 07:03am
It is not matter of this department or that being corrupt. corruption is spreaded from top to bottom. where a few steal millions, a large majority steal billions from the pockets of common man. We innovate in cheating. Nowhere in the world, water is mixed in meat. we specilaise in selling water in milk. we sell fake medicines. Lying is our norms of business and daily life. And with all that we expect "Inqlab" under a system this lare majority is the deciding fctor in current election system
Sohail Aug 10, 2012 07:40am
Agreed what is this made of stone,through them away
manish Aug 10, 2012 07:49am similar our thoughts are. i too want you to get rid of these idols as early as possible..... just let the smuggler mentioned above get rid of it, as early as possible.....
GPK Aug 10, 2012 09:53am
Andleeb, check the definition of Kafir. Show me where it is written that if one is not muslim, he is a kafir? It is a non believer, who thinks there is no Allah/ no God/ no Bhagwan etc., is a Kafir. A person who does not follows religion Islam / Christianity/ Hinduism etc. , is a Kafir. Kafirs are very well defined in Christianity and Hinduism also!
Aziz Aug 10, 2012 10:56am
As the saying goes: Sarcasm is the lowest form of wit. But everyone is entitled to his or her opinion. The nefarious trade is carried out for greed not to preserve. These artefacts have existed from time immemorial with us. It was a normal refrain of the colonial looters that the artefacts would be safe with them. They have done that to Egypt, to Iraq, to Afghanistan. Now there is an alliance of greedy, anti-people and mindless locals and unscrupulous billionaire tradesmen located overseas. LOOTING AND STEALING FOR GREED. If you have some positive suggestions then please offer them. But we as Pakistanis are equally happy to read your sarcasm. I wonder if this would be possible where you live.
BRR Aug 10, 2012 11:16am
Those who do not value their heritage clearly do not deserve it. Pearls strewn in front of swine. Let the world benefit from Pakistan's disasterous policies and rescue what is truly of value to the world, even if Pakistan cares not for it.
Neptune Aug 10, 2012 11:55am
And Gandhar was what is modern day Kandahar. gandhari was the daughter of the King og Gandhar, hence the name Gandhari.
PARVEEZ Aug 10, 2012 03:17pm
The government of Pakistan, and the people of Pakistan , are short sighted. They are penny wise, and pound foolish, as they say in England. Can you imanage how much money the Pakistan government can make, if they improve the law situation. You can build your tourism, which will create jobs. This will improve the the economy, and life of the common man.
Sangat Singh Aug 10, 2012 03:25pm
Well said, mate.
Adil Aug 10, 2012 03:25pm
Anyone knows what is Dawn's policy on enabling/disabling comments on articles? It seems like all negative articles on Pakistan are open to comments and criticism.
Adil Aug 10, 2012 03:34pm
The meaning of Kufr is rejection of truth. I think the meaning can be applied to anyone who is the denier of the single and absolute truth that is the concept of Tawhid.
syed Aug 10, 2012 04:25pm
Government officials are themselves getting money for allowing him to sell each artifact. Don't we know that every five years we vote out of fear for our lives to these thugs and barbarians and poor pakistani nation is hostage to criminals for the last many decades.
syed Aug 10, 2012 04:29pm
Holy Quran has said, Go look around the earth and learn lessons what we have done to transgressors. Unfortuynately our heritage department is filled wth many corrupt officials and less honest arcaheologists who does value national treasure. They value they belly and their banglows mkore than anything else. They don't know on the day of judgement their children will run away from them as they had filled their bellies with haram.
Sundar Agrawal Aug 10, 2012 05:35pm
Please read Kuran carefully and show where it says hindus are not Kafir. Kafir is people of the non-book; non abrahamic religion; Hindus are kafir/infadel. Christians/Jew are lesser believers thus also refered to Kafirs/infadels. All pagan statues are to be destroyed to clense the lands pure. It has happened from the start of the islamic history starting Saudi Arabia. Hinduism don't preach violence against atheists.
Ramesh Aug 10, 2012 05:54pm
Why doesn't the government protect this wealth for the country? Are they busy protecting their own wealth?
manish Aug 10, 2012 06:43pm
no, aziz, it was a truth, that i was writing. you may be a good fellow at heart, who wants to preserve these artefacts for posterity as a sign of great history of pakistan, and it's pre-islamic heritage. but for the same reason, many people in your country, would like to blow up these idols, as it reminds them of a time when they had some association with these artefacts. it's kind of embarassed for them to think that once in the past, their forefathers had worshipped these dead stones. the catch is: the word is too tired in seeing whether your crop succeds against all odds, or of the extremists, and so has a better way of preserving these artefacts. and that is by smugging them out from pakistan.
manish Aug 10, 2012 06:52pm
well, hinduism has no such equivalent. hinduism, had a school of thought called, CHARVAKA, and it thrived for more than thousand of years. also, buddhism and jainism, are an offshoot of hinduism, in their disbelief in god. neither of them believe in god. SO, buddhists can, by even your definition, be grouped into category of kafirs.
Avik Roy Aug 10, 2012 07:08pm
I agree with you completely. A book on 'The Buddhas of Bamian' has just come out. The author described that when the Afghans could not demolish the two colossal Buddhas by themselves (in 2001) demolition experts form Pakistan and Saudi Arabia were sent. they successfully placed the explosives into different locations of the statues which did the work! That took care of perhaps one of the wonders of the world, for good.
Agha Ata Aug 10, 2012 09:27pm
Haven't yu been to hudj yet?
Ahmed jani Aug 10, 2012 10:25pm
Harappa, gandhara, Buddhism are not Pakistan's history. Pakistan's history starts with the Islamic invaders. And we are culturally close to Arabs and our ummah even though our ancestors were infidel hindus. Still we could preserve this art as our eastern neighbors history just as turkey preserves Greek and roman history even though they have nothing to do with it. I don't see how this stuff is connected with our country though, any more than Turks can take pride in the Greek poet Homer who lived in modern day turkey but clearly Greek (actually Turks hate Greeks tithe ore but don't destroy Greek historical sites on their land).
saythetruth Aug 10, 2012 10:58pm
Shame on you, do you have any idea what you are saying out of you ignorance. Nothing wrong with protecting part of you history but why in the world you are bring Arab's into it. Your forefather benefited from the Arab's by accepting the one and a only true religion Islam. Arabs never invaded this part of the world only the beauty of Islam made your forefathers accept the message of Islam.
san Aug 10, 2012 11:50pm
AsimCO Aug 11, 2012 01:01am
It all falls back on the self belief if a citizen is able to define his/her future by their own hard work. If there is no light in sight, there is no patriotism or the concept of doing the right thing. Number one priority is to feed your self. This goes for all the institutions and people involved in the value of chain of this trade. From the excavators, to police, and to the smugglers. If we can only understand the power of our vote and bring in the right leaders and vote out the wrong ones.
Rizwan Aug 11, 2012 02:21am
"Stealing is easy when there is no fear of being caught. I don't understand why anyone in Pakistan wants to make a honest living." Thats essentially the same argument that is used against atheists: why act morally if you believe in God? The answer: Because most of us are good people that wish to live with dignity. And stealing is undignified. Thats why.
Rizwan Aug 11, 2012 02:24am
This is garbage. Indians are like South Asia's Mitt Romney: You'll say anything, no matter how ridiculous, to make an invalid point. Our Zameen-e-Pak houses many Buddhist statues and Hindu artifacts. That disproves your silly theory that Pakistan wants to erase its history - as preservation in a museum is incompatible with the nonsense you spew. But I do like how every Indian thinks he's an expert on Pakistani social matters!
Rizwan Aug 11, 2012 02:27am
We don't want to acknowledge this? I don't understand how Indians make such sweeping judgements about a people they almost never meet. Everyone in Pakistan knows their ancestors were Hindus/Buddhists. The people you are referring to are the economic elite - they are the only ones with outsider blood. Everyone else is a son of the soil. We know our ancestors were Hindus. And whether or not they were "forcefully" converted by those Sufi preachers, we are proud to be Muslim now, and not Hindu.
Rizwan Aug 11, 2012 02:28am
Indian nationalist posing as a Muslim. Why does Dawn publish these?
Rizwan Aug 11, 2012 02:29am
Iranians revere Buddha statues? Iran was never a Buddhist country. It was Parsi/Zoroastrian. Do you Indians just say anything at all to smear Pakistan's name?
Ridwan Aug 11, 2012 02:32am
Pakistan. Kushans were based in our country, and largely confined to ours. They claim OUR heritage, but there has always been various kingdoms in the transitiion region between India and Central Asia, except under the Mauryans and British. There's an excellent article in the current edition of Foreign Policy that demonstrates that Pakistan isn't just some made-up country without any historical basis.
Rizwan Aug 11, 2012 02:39am
because these smugglers are stealing from sites unknown to others. They go to secret caves and find these statues. "No one cares" because no one knows these places exist, except for the smugglers who harvest these treasures. If you think these people are walking into archeological digs, picking up statues, and walking out, then you are wrong. The article makes clear they are going to some of the thousands of undiscovered sites in the NW. there are thousands of secret spots in Pakistan full of these statues because ancient Buddhists used caves to meditate with these carvings.
Rizwan Afridi Aug 11, 2012 03:03am
Pakistan is not alone in this problem. Despite what our neighbours try to suggest, artifacts are smuggled from everyplace. Egypt, Cambodia, China, Thailand all suffer this scourge. The fact that it ALSO occurs in Pakistan is a poor reason for Indians to be so damning of our heritage and religion. Do they think the Indian artifacts in the world's museums were all purchased from reputable dealers? No, even their beloved India is being plundered by smugglers. But if you say anything about them, they say "Be quiet Pakistanis, mind your own business!" But if the same thing happens in Pakistan, they say "Look how intolerant and what a mess your country is!" No, my Indian neighbors, this act of smuggling isn't confined to Pakistan - ask how your chola bronzes ended up spread across the world. And if these crooks are "preserving" the statues, then thank the British for plundering India and preserving its treasures in Western museums. Stop complaining about all those stolen artifacts!
Ramesh Aug 11, 2012 03:49am
Why do you think the government does not take any interest in this?
Sajjad Khan-Sherwani Aug 11, 2012 06:36am
It is unfortunate that there are a lot of people like you. These artifacts are the memory of our forefathers who were of different religion than us. Anyone any where in the world would be so proud of such beuatifukl pieces of artisanship except those like you
hinduismglance Aug 11, 2012 05:25pm
Pakistani smugglers are selling Mohanjodaro and other artifacts in the United Kingdom.My friend bought couple of them.They are valued all over the world and has immense positive energy.I would love to buy ancient statues.The Arabs stole the gold,silver ones,melted it and took them to their land but for me even a stone statue of the great Vishnu avtar Buddha is valuable.
Joe Aug 11, 2012 11:51pm
Sounds good, so long as people will stop taking bribes at every level. The government should offer rewards for honesty, for turning in the thieves and their middlemen -- and those rewards should be based at a level better than the bribes.
Sheharyar Aug 12, 2012 02:44am
I know myself dozens of archealogical sites in Mardan. I guess there are hundreds of them and I can see people digging there with mine detectors. In fact every small village has a dozen of people working only to scavenge such sites. Once I asked the dealer how did they smuggle it out. He said that they get a certificate from archeological deptt that the artifacts are not real but replicas and thus they can pass it through security. The govt is involved in corruption with this mafia. And there are hundreds of sites in KP which needs to be digged and guarded by the govt. The only diggeres are smugglers for now.
Shahji Aug 12, 2012 03:41am
You must be full of hatred, Pakistan tried desperately to stop Afghanistan, but the Taliban never listened to anyone. Without any proof, you Indians sit on your computers day and night and blame Pakistan without any proof. Show us evidence if you have any. The Taliban had tanks and rockets and artillary, they did not need any experts in demolition.
Shahji Aug 12, 2012 03:48am
We need death penalty for Drug smuggling and bringing drugs to our country, we need death penalty for throwing acid on women, for blowing up schools, for kidnap, for bhatta, for corruption in public office like China, start hanging people for these crimes and watch how quickly nation will straighten up.