Task force sought for archaeological assets’ protection

ISLAMABAD: Without proper check and balance, the unique and priceless archaeological treasures remain under regular threat of intrusion and theft.
Archaeological tourism now is among the trendiest segments of the tourism industry. Millions of tourists curious to gain knowledge and witness ancient historical and cultural settings visit other places in the world. Archaeological tourism, a form of cultural tourism, is expected to grow by $3.76 billion by the year 2025 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 16.41%. Many countries around the globe are making their economies strong only with multiple segments of the tourism industry.
Pakistan is rich in centuries-old heritage of archaeological remains. The security and look after of all the archaeological treasures is a regular practice to be performed by the relevant quarters. Deputy Director of Taxila Museum Iqbal Anjum Khan told WealthPK that the prevention of theft in museums and other archaeological places has remained a problem. In modern times, it has become a little tricky as culprits use smart equipment.
Iqbal Anjum said a special task force is needed to prevent this happening. “This task force must consist of specially-trained personnel with the knowledge to guard, and guide people to visit any archaeological/historical place. The right to act as a policeman and a magistrate will help them to take appropriate decisions on the spot according to the type of intrusion or law violation,” he said.
The official said the task force must also be trained to cover all legal issues in courts as well. The official said the preservation of history through substantial historic possessions gives a community unique charm. They are a link between the past and present of any nation, creed, or age. Iqbal Anjum added that wrongdoers often come in the guise of historians, artists, or non-government organizations (NGOs) officials etc and steal precious artefacts when they get an opportunity.
Sometimes, at religious archaeological places, such culprits stole both local and foreign visitors’ belongings. They usually sell them false artefacts as religious relics, statues, or charms.
Iqbal Anjum also quoted an incident where some people tried to forfeit the grey schist stone of the Kushan period to deceive the simple visitors. It spoils the image of the country on international platforms.
“Sometimes the cons craft a replica of original miniatures and rob people. Sometimes a replica is crafted with such mastery that experts are deceived. All these practices are financial and ethical crimes,” he said.
Archaeological sites are an asset for a country about its past, a source of knowledge, and income. They must be cared for and cured. For this purpose, honest people about heritage must be encouraged to join in the efforts. Private people who are helpful to stop archaeological plunder in any way must be appreciated, and well rewarded by keeping their names in secrecy.
A smart check and balance at the departmental level concerning all curative, archaeological, and heritage offices must be outlined. Secret reports about the actions taken to stop the culprits must be publicized to encourage people to discourage such malpractices.
Official efforts to preserve the existing archaeological sites and introduce them to the world for research and tourism to uplift the economy are needed.