Like many other source nations, Pakistan lacks the financial means to protect it’s rich cultural heritage. Criminal excavators have caused the flow of millions of dollars worth of ancient Buddhist artifacts out of northwest Pakistan and into the hands of collectors worldwide. As CBS news has recently reported, Pakistan is struggling to put a stop to this practice.
According to head of the government’s department of archaeology and museums Fazal Dad Kakar, “we are facing a serious problem because Pakistan is a vast country, and we have very meager resources,” Kakar continues, “we have no manpower to watch the hundreds of Buddhist sites and monasteries in the country, most of which are located in isolated valleys.”
Pakistan also faces the problem of citizens illegally creating replicas of Buddhist relics and passing them off as legitimate. One Pakistani man who admitted to making replicas told reporters that he can “fake anything using cement, small stones, some colors and chemicals.”
Globally, the black market trade in antiquities is a multi-billion dollar problem. Not only does illicit excavation rob a people of the cultural heritage that is rightfully theirs, but it also robs countries like Pakistan of a vital source of tourism revenue.