Ambassador Donald Blome and Secretary Humaira Ahmed sign cultural property agreement. Cultural objects returned to Pakistan by the U.S. government include head of the Buddha and toilet tray with image of River God Poseidon – 2nd/3rd Century Gandhara period.
Islamabad, January 30, 2024: U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Donald Blome and Pakistan Secretary of National Heritage and Culture Humaira Ahmed signed an agreement on cultural property protection in Islamabad on January 30, 2024. The agreement establishes import restrictions on certain types of archaeological and ethnological materials originating from Pakistan and entering the United States. The agreement facilitates the return of these cultural objects to the people of Pakistan. The cultural property agreement demonstrates the strong U.S. and Pakistani commitment to disrupt the theft and trafficking of cultural objects and our shared goal of protecting Pakistan’s rich and diverse cultural heritage. This agreement commits both parties to work together to counter looting and trafficking of objects, promote a clean market for Pakistani art and antiquities in the United States, and increase opportunities for U.S. museums and the American public to learn about and experience Pakistan’s history and culture.
“This agreement protects unique and historically significant artifacts for future generations … It also demonstrates U.S. support for the principles of tolerance and respect for diversity – principles by which the people of this region have lived for centuries,” said Ambassador Blome.
Today’s signing underscores the United States’ global commitment to cultural heritage protection and preservation. The United States has been unwavering in its commitment to protect and preserve cultural heritage around the world and to restrict trafficking in cultural property, which may be used to fund terrorist and criminal networks. To date, the United States has returned over 175 cultural objects to Pakistan, and this agreement simplifies the process.
Since 2001, the United States government has supported 35 cultural heritage preservation projects across Pakistan with more than $8.4 million USD. U.S.-funded preservation projects include the conservation of Gandhara archaeological treasures and Mughal architectural heritage, documentation of historic manuscripts, the digitization of museums, and the restoration of historically significant Sufi shrines and Hindu monuments, among other projects. This new bilateral cultural agreement highlights the diversity of the Pakistani people and sets the stage for further bilateral cooperation.