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KP Renews Bid To Reclaim Gandhara Artefacts To Boost Religious Tourism

PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) government is making all-out efforts for the repatriation of over 3,000 Gandhara era antiques that were excavated from KP but are currently displayed in museums in other provinces of the country.

According to BBC Urdu, the decision is in line with the KP government’s religious tourism initiative which wants to showcase the province’s rich culture and history.

Around 3,150 Gandhara antiques are currently in possession of museums around the country, out of which the ‘Fasting Buddha’ displayed in the Lahore Museum is of immense historical significance.

KP Tourism Minister Atif Khan has urged the officials concerned to finalise preparations before the provincial government can approach the inter-provincial coordination committee for the recovery of the antiques.

Talking to a BBC Urdu correspondent, the KP Archaeology and Museums Director of Archaeology Dr Abdul Samad said that the provincial government’s move is supported by the 18th Amendment which empowered departments through devolution of power.

“Though KP received its share of extra powers and monetary benefits, but it has yet to bring back its antiques from the other provinces,” he said.

He further said, “Since the passage of the 18th Amendment in 2010, the inter-provincial coordination committee and other relevant forums have been approached many times for the return of KP’s antiques. However, those requests did not materialise.”

“The KP government is making a fresh attempt to ensure that the artefacts are brought back this time around,” he added.

It merits mention here that past provincial governments had taken this matter to UNESCO, stating that it was a universally accepted principle that any archaeological material recovered from ancient sites located in a particular area is the sole property of that area.

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The KP government argues that Gandhara civilisation was mostly located inside the province. Therefore, Punjab and Sindh have no cultural, historical or legal right to hold on to the Gandhara artwork.

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