KARACHI - The Karachi police and intelligence agencies on Friday foiled an attempt to smuggle antiquities worth billions of rupees and arrested two persons in connection with the attempt.
In a recent meeting, the National Assembly’s Standing Committee had unveiled that at least 40 antiques were stolen from National Museum Karachi in 1986.
Further, the NA body had said some 12 mummies of Buddha were also stolen from the same museum in 1995.
Some mummies were also stolen from the Archeology Museum Taxila in 1995.
Eleven of those, however, were later recovered.
Around 138 antiques were stolen from Fort Museum Lahore in 1996, while 61 antiques of silver and copper were burgled from Taxila Museum in 1999, the committee had said.
On Friday, law enforcement officials acted on a tip-off and arrested a driver and a conductor of a trawler which was transporting a container.
The security personnel intercepted and searched a container in Awami Colony, Korangi and recovered valuable, including ancient idols, statues and various utensils.
The antiquities included 10 idols, a number of small statues and various utensils, hidden underneath cleaning items, bales of straw and other miscellaneous items such as furniture, slippers and water coolers.
Intelligence officials said most of the antiquities had been stolen from various museums across the country, including the Swat museum. Some of the items were believed to have been smuggled from Afghanistan. The antiquities cost billions of rupees, an official said.
The centuries-old antiques are said to be remnants of ancient Budhist civilization from across South Asia, including Afghanistan. Karachi police started investigation and raided various localities for the arrest of the member of the racket.
“The arrested men told the police that they were moving towards Rawalpindi while they picked the container from Bin Qasim Port,” an official said.
The NA standing committee on culture said 324 antiques were stolen from different museums of the country during the past 21 years and the police had only recovered 11 of them.
Several historical antiques have been smuggled abroad.
Of them, the United States returned 38 while authorities in the Culture Ministry are in talks with the French authorities for the return of 17 other.