US Returns 133 Stolen Artifacts to Pakistan Valued at $13 Million

Artifacts to Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: The United States has returned 133 pieces of stolen antiquities, valued at over $13 million, to Pakistan, state-run media reported. This marks the fifth such transfer of artifacts to Pakistan, including pieces dating back to the Gandhara period.

Artifacts, which are man-made objects of cultural, historical, or archaeological interest, often fall victim to the illegal antiquities trade. This trade is a multi-billion-dollar global industry, as highlighted by a 2018 report from Standard Chartered Bank. The trade also serves as a major funding source for criminal and militant groups, according to the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP).

The ceremony for the return of these artifacts was held at the Manhattan District Attorney’s office in New York on Tuesday. Some of the antiquities were displayed during the event, where Pakistani Consul General in New York, Aamer Ahmed Atozai, announced that the artifacts would be showcased in museums across Pakistan.

“The consul general also signed an agreement with Assistant District Attorney in Manhattan, Matthew Bogdanos, head of the Antiquities Trafficking Unit, for the repatriation of the artifacts to Pakistan,” reported the Associated Press of Pakistan (APP).

Bogdanos expressed his delight in returning these “glorious pieces of Pakistani heritage” to a country with a civilization dating back 5,000 years.

Pakistan and the US have a history of collaborating to return stolen artifacts. In 2021, after investigating Indian-American art dealer Subhash Kapoor, the US returned 192 stolen antiquities valued at approximately $3.4 million to Pakistan. In August 2022, the US returned another 104 artifacts, valued at $3.3 million, that were part of thousands of antiquities looted from Asian countries and seized from Kapoor.