Today, in a ceremony held at the High Commission for Pakistan, Canberra, a stone aniconic weight dating from around 3rd millennium BCE having originated in Balochistan, Pakistan was handed over to Pakistan by the Australian Government.
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. 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.
The High Commission for Pakistan 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.
This was the first time that an object of cultural heritage from Pakistan was returned by the Government of Australia under the UNESCO Convention.
In his remarks, High Commissioner Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri appreciated the efforts of the Australin Government in intercepting, retrieving and returning to Pakistan of this immensely valuable cultural property from the Bronze Age. He also underscored the importance of close cooperation among countries against illicit trafficking in cultural property. The High Commissioner also reiterated Pakistan’s commitment to working with international friends and partners for the protection of common cultural heritage.
The ceremony was 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.
8 December 2021