US returns 133 stolen artifacts to Pakistan valued at $13 million

US returns 133 stolen artifacts to Pakistan valued at $13 million
Recovered Pakistani artifacts are displayed during a ceremony at the Manhattan District Attorney’s office in New York, US, on May 21, 2024. (@PakinNewYork/X)
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Updated 22 May 2024
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US returns 133 stolen artifacts to Pakistan valued at $13 million

US returns 133 stolen artifacts to Pakistan valued at $13 million
  • illegal antiquities trade is a multi-billion-dollar global industry, as per a 2018 report by Standard Chartered 
  • This marks fifth such transfer between US and Pakistan, from where artifacts dating to Gandhara period were stolen

ISLAMABAD: The United States this week returned 133 pieces of stolen antiquities valued over $13 million to Pakistan, state-run media reported, marking the fifth such transfer to the South Asian country from where artifacts dating back to the Gandhara period were stolen.

Artifacts are man-made objects, such as pieces of art or tools, that are of particular cultural, historical, or archaeological interest. 

The illegal antiquities trade is a multi-billion-dollar global industry according to a 2018 report by Standard Chartered Bank. The trade is also often a major funding source for criminal and militant groups on the supply side, according to a report by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP). 

“The United States returned to Pakistan 133 pieces of stolen antiquities worth over $13 million at a ceremony at the Manhattan District Attorney’s office in New York on Tuesday,” the state-run Associated Press of Pakistan (APP) reported. 

Some of the antiquities were displayed during the ceremony at which Pakistani Consul General in New York Aamer Ahmed Atozai said the artifacts would adorn museums across Pakistan. 

“The consul general also signed an agreement with the Assistant District Attorney in Manhattan, Matthew Bogdanos, who heads the Antiquities Trafficking Unit for the repatriation of the returned artifacts to Pakistan,” APP said. 

Bogdanos said he was delighted to return “glorious pieces of Pakistani heritage” to the country whose civilization dates back to 5,000 years, APP said. 

Pakistan and the US regularly collaborate to return stolen artifacts to Pakistan. In 2021, the US, after conducting a probe into an Indian-American art dealer Shubash Kapoor, had returned 192 stolen antiquities worth around $3.4 million.

In August 2022, the US again returned 104 artifacts valued at $3.3 million to Pakistan that were among thousands of antiquities looted from Asian countries and seized from Kapoor.
 


Pakistan arrests nine murder suspects from UAE in joint operation with Interpol

Pakistan arrests nine murder suspects from UAE in joint operation with Interpol
Updated 25 sec ago
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Pakistan arrests nine murder suspects from UAE in joint operation with Interpol

Pakistan arrests nine murder suspects from UAE in joint operation with Interpol
  • FIA has dispatched a local team to the Gulf state to bring back the accused individuals to Pakistan
  • Pakistan’s premier investigation agency says suspects were arrested from different areas of the UAE

ISLAMABAD: Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) have arrested nine Pakistani murder suspects from the United Arab Emirates in a joint operation, said an official statement on Thursday.

Interpol, an inter-governmental organization with 196 member countries, facilitates the sharing and accessing of data on crimes and criminals, offering a range of technical and operational support. Each member country hosts an Interpol National Central Bureau, which connects their national law enforcement with other countries and the general secretariat through a secure global police communications network called I-24/7, according to the Interpol website.

“During the special operation, nine suspects wanted in serious crimes were arrested from the UAE,” the FIA said. “The accused persons were arrested due to a joint strategy of Interpol Islamabad and Interpol Abu Dhabi.”

The statement said the suspects wanted by the police in Pakistan’s central Punjab province had cases registered against them under the provisions of attempted murder and murder.

Of these suspects, one was wanted by the Punjab police for 14 years while another was already dead and the rest were living abroad after committing murders, it added.

The FIA said all the murder suspects were arrested from different areas in the UAE, adding a local team had been dispatched to bring back the accused persons to Pakistan where they will be handed to the local Punjab police.

Pakistan’s national investigation agency and Interpol have also collaborated in the past to bring back criminals who had fled the South Asian state to evade arrest.


Police in Oman attribute mosque attack that killed six, including four Pakistanis, to local citizens

Police in Oman attribute mosque attack that killed six, including four Pakistanis, to local citizens
Updated 16 min 40 sec ago
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Police in Oman attribute mosque attack that killed six, including four Pakistanis, to local citizens

Police in Oman attribute mosque attack that killed six, including four Pakistanis, to local citizens
  • Police say the three gunmen, who targeted the mosque, were killed after they offered resistance to security personnel
  • Attack claimed by Daesh is viewed as an attempt by the militant group to make a comeback after being crushed by the US

DUBAI: The three gunmen who shot and killed six people at a Shi’ite Muslim mosque in Oman in an attack claimed by Daesh this week were all Omani nationals, police said on Thursday.
The assault began on Monday evening at the Ali bin Abi Talib Mosque in the Wadi Al-Kabir neighborhood of Oman’s capital Muscat as Shi’ite Muslims gathered.
The Royal Oman Police said the three gunmen were brothers and “were killed due to their insistence on resisting security personnel.” It said that police investigations had indicated the three gunmen were “influenced by misguided ideas.”
The six people killed by the gunmen were four Pakistani nationals, an Indian, and a police officer responding to the attack, which Daesh later claimed responsibility for.
Pakistan has labelled the assault a terror attack.
Daesh on Tuesday said that three of its “suicide attackers” fired on worshippers at the mosque on Monday evening and exchanged gunfire with Omani security forces until morning.
The Sunni militant group also published what it said was a video of the attack on its Telegram site. It has claimed responsibility this year for high-profile attacks in Russia and Iran which inflicted mass casualties and is active in Afghanistan. It had not claimed an assault on the Arabian Peninsula for several years until the attack in Oman.
DAESH SEEKS COMEBACK
Its operations have indicated the group is attempting a comeback after it was crushed by a US-led coalition following its occupation of large swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria and declared a caliphate.
It also inspired lone-wolf attacks in the West.
Any inroads in Gulf Arab oil producers such as Oman would raise fears in Washington and the region which has long viewed militant Islamist groups as a major threat.
Dozens of people at the mosque in Oman were wounded with around 30 people treated at local hospitals, including for gunshot wounds.
Monday evening marked the beginning of Ashura, an annual period of mourning, which many Shi’ite Muslims mark publicly, to commemorate the 7th century death of Hussein, a grandson of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). The observation of Ashura has sometimes triggered sectarian tensions between Sunni and Shi’ite Muslims in some Middle East countries.
The attack was largely unprecedented in Oman, where most of its citizens follow the Ibadi Muslim faith that shares many similarities with mainstream Sunni Islam. Oman has a small but influential Omani Shi’ite population. Like other Gulf countries, there is a large and significant foreign workforce in Oman too.


Pakistan criticizes UN for inaction on Palestine and Kashmir, seeks resolution of global disputes

Pakistan criticizes UN for inaction on Palestine and Kashmir, seeks resolution of global disputes
Updated 55 min ago
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Pakistan criticizes UN for inaction on Palestine and Kashmir, seeks resolution of global disputes

Pakistan criticizes UN for inaction on Palestine and Kashmir, seeks resolution of global disputes
  • Ambassador Jadoon tells UNSC Pakistan opposes a global order dominated by a few powerful states
  • He calls for a more just and democratic world through adherence to the principles of the UN Charter

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan criticized the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) this week for failing to apply its core principles to regions like Palestine and Kashmir, highlighting the non-implementation of its own resolutions to address protracted disputes around the world, during an open debate on multilateral cooperation.

Both regions have striking similarities, particularly regarding themes of foreign occupation and the right to self-determination. The UN has passed several resolutions in the past, advocating for peaceful solutions to the two protracted disputes, though geopolitical interests and regional dynamics have complicated these efforts.

Additionally, both regions have reportedly been focal points for human rights violations, including allegations of excessive use of force, restrictions on movement and suppression of political rights.

Presenting Pakistan’s perspective, Ambassador Usman Jadoon described the multilateral cooperation as “indispensable” for addressing global challenges.

“He expressed regret that the UN Security Council has failed to ensure universal implementation of the core principles of the UN Charter and its own resolutions, such as those related to Palestine and Jammu and Kashmir,” said an official statement shared by the country’s permanent mission to the UN on the social media on Wednesday.

He rejected any world order, whether unipolar, bipolar or multipolar, which was dominated by a few powerful states, saying such arrangements contradicted the principle of sovereign equality among nations.

“A just, democratic and sustainable world is achievable only through consistent adherence to the fundamental principles of the UN Charter,” he added.

Reiterating his own country’s commitment to comprehensive multilateral cooperation, he said such approach “must be comprehensive, inclusive, and equitable.”

He also called for reforms to the global financial, trade and technology architecture, saying they would ease “the suffering of a billion people in the Global South and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.”


Two dead, several injured in northwest Pakistan amid monsoon rains, flood warning

Two dead, several injured in northwest Pakistan amid monsoon rains, flood warning
Updated 18 July 2024
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Two dead, several injured in northwest Pakistan amid monsoon rains, flood warning

Two dead, several injured in northwest Pakistan amid monsoon rains, flood warning
  • Pakistan’s disaster management body expects recent spell of monsoon rains to continue until July 21
  • The loss of life was caused in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Charsadda region due roof collapse amid heavy rains

PESHAWAR: Two people were killed and several others injured in the recent spell of rains in Pakistan’s northwest, an official statement released on Thursday confirmed, with the provincial Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) administration expressing sorrow over the development.

The recent loss of life followed an alert issued by Pakistan’s National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) warning of floods in KP, Punjab and other parts of the country due to monsoon rains.

Pakistan experienced devastating floods in 2022, resulting in the deaths of approximately 1,700 people and causing extensive damage to houses, farmlands and public infrastructure.

It is also considered among one of the top 10 countries most vulnerable to climate change, despite contributing minimally to global greenhouse gas emissions.

“Two people were killed and several others injured as roofs of houses collapsed due to heavy rains in Shabqadar, Charsadda,” said the statement released by the KP government.

It also noted that Chief Minister Ali Amin Gandapur extended condolences and sympathies to the families of the deceased.

He directed the relevant district administration to provide timely medical assistance to the injured and ensure immediate relief to the affected.

The NDMA forecast rains and thundershowers a day earlier in the upper regions of the country from July 16 to 21 with occasional gaps.

It noted that rain could exceed 50 millimeters and cause flooding in local streams.

“The NDMA has issued instructions to all relevant departments to take necessary precautions to mitigate the possible effects of flooding and extreme weather,” the alert said.

“The public is advised to take precautions to avoid flooding and to ensure their safety from lightning strikes,” it continued. “Avoid going outside during bad weather and keep a safe distance from electrical poles and wires.”

The NDMA also announced the launch of its cellphone app, available on Google Play Store and iOS App Store, to help the public get timely alerts, adviseries and guidelines.


Rampant drug use fuels divorce rate, ruins hundreds of families in coastal Karachi village

Rampant drug use fuels divorce rate, ruins hundreds of families in coastal Karachi village
Updated 26 min 7 sec ago
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Rampant drug use fuels divorce rate, ruins hundreds of families in coastal Karachi village

Rampant drug use fuels divorce rate, ruins hundreds of families in coastal Karachi village
  • Rehri Goth has a population of nearly 70,000 and is primarily home to ethnic Sindhi fisherfolk
  • The coastal village has been a hub for drug peddlers, with addicts often lining its shabby streets

KARACHI: Maryam Ameer’s world fell apart when her 22-year-old son, an addict, threatened his wife with divorce. His words brought back painful memories from 20 years ago when her husband abandoned her due to his own drug use.

Ameer fought through years of hardship alone to raise her two sons, but now history seemed to be repeating itself, only with different characters and the same underlying cause of her suffering: the rampant flow of drugs into her coastal village in Karachi.

Rehri Goth, with a population of nearly 70,000, is primarily home to ethnic Sindhi fisherfolk and dates back to the 13th century. The coastal village has become a hub for drug peddlers in recent decades, with hundreds of addicts often lining its shabby streets.

“He says ‘I will divorce my wife too,’” 40-year-old Ameer said, taking a sigh and pausing her sewing machine, her sole source of income in all these years. “There is no one who may put an end to drugs [in this village]. [The lives of] Our sons are being destroyed because of this.”

Her voice tinged with grief as she recalled the moment her husband abandoned her.

“Life has been ruined for all women just because of these men,” she added. “They are not willing to quit this addiction.”

The rising divorce rate in Rehri Goth alarmed social worker Nawaz Ali, who married a woman divorced by an addict. This prompted him to conduct a manual survey in all eight neighborhoods of the village, uncovering some shocking facts.

“I compiled a list that included the names of 850 [divorced] women,” Ali told Arab News, adding: “There is no place [in this neighborhood] where you will not find divorced women.”

In a recent incident, Ali said a 14-year-old girl committed suicide after her parents forced her to marry a boy who was a drug addict.

Arab News interviewed around 20 women in the coastal town who were divorced by their drug-addicted husbands.

“My husband left me. He was also addicted,” said 29-year-old Shahida, who goes by a single name.

Her husband divorced her last week, leaving their infant daughter in her lap. Shahida’s elderly father, who catches crabs and other seafood for a living, now bears their expenses.

“It’s very difficult to manage the expenses of children,” she said.

While interviewing these women last Sunday, Arab News witnessed drug transactions openly taking place in the streets of Rehri Goth, but none of the addicts agreed to speak about the drug distribution network in the locality.

“Here, this whole area is infested with drugs. Wherever I sit, it’s a den of drugs,” said Mushtaq Ahmed, a police officer administering a drug rehabilitation center run by the Sindh police in Rehri Goth. “If you look around, you’ll see drugs being sold everywhere.”

Frequent police actions have failed to dismantle the network of drug peddlers and most of them vanish in the narrow streets at the sight of the law enforcers, according to Ahmed.

Kashif Aftab Ahmad Abbasi, senior superintendent of police (SSP), said they had “zero tolerance” for drug peddlers in Karachi’s Malir district, where Rehri Goth is located. He cited various drug busts in June, including seizures of 704 grams of ice, 3.41 kilograms of heroin, 52.189 kgs of charas and 51 bottles of wine, with cases registered against the offenders.

Nevertheless, drug dealers continue to occupy the streets, significantly affecting the community, particularly women.

“We don’t produce it at home, someone is supplying it from the outside,” said Hurmat Muhammad Rafiq, a social worker in her 40s who launched a campaign against the menace of drugs after her own son became an addict. “Someone or the other is supplying it. That’s why this [drug addiction] is growing.”

In addition to drugs, Rafiq said, early marriages were also contributing to the rising divorce rate in the area.

“Don’t marry off children at a young age. Let them grow up first, then arrange marriages for them,” she urged, after discussing a campaign plan with women in the neighborhood. “If they get married now [at an early age], within five to six months, they end up divorced.”

The men, who were addicted to drugs, had no regard for their wives, according to Rafiq.

“The husband comes back after smoking a cigarette, exhales smoke, and asks the wife if there is food or not. [She] says no, he kicks her and says, ‘I divorce you’,” she recounted.

“What is that poor woman supposed to do now?”