Many years ago there was a very popular PTV short play, later an even more popular theatre production, called ‘Dubai Challo.‘ Now it seems that the new trend is to ‘Sharjah lay Challo.’ That is, steal national historical treasures and take them to Sharjah and, possibly, beyond.
An Associated Press news item published in the International Herald Tribune and elsewhere caught my attention earlier today:
Pakistan officials said on Saturday they had foiled a bid to smuggle hundreds of historical artifacts to the United Arab Emirates, and were looking for those who booked the consignment. The artifacts, worth million of dollars (euros), had been concealed in a shipping container that was seized on Nov. 1 at the main seaport in Karachi, Pakistan’s biggest city, said customs spokesman Muhammad Yahya.
A total of 625 artifacts, including Buddha sculptures, were found in the shipment listed as furniture. Experts from Pakistan’s Archaeology Department concluded that the artifacts were of a historical nature, he said. Yahya said that no arrests had been made, but a team of investigators was looking for the suspects who booked the consignment for Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates. “These precious artifacts were hidden in 23 wooden boxes with ordinary furniture as part of the export consignment,” he said.
Some might suggest that in light of everything happening right now – including the important but yet incomplete rollback of some draconian laws related to womens rights and the possible shell-games being played out with MMA (and, now, ARD) resignations – this amounts to ‘small peanuts.’ Something of little significance to most Pakistanis.
That may well be so, especially in the short term. However, I keep thinking that there is something particularly vile about such crimes of the rich which, at its roots, is about stealing a part of Pakistaniat from Pakistanis. At the same time, it is a sign of hope that some in law enforcement remain cognizant of their real responsibilities. It is our duty, then, to celebrate their success; because very few others will.