Five rare and invaluable Buddha statues were recovered in Pakistan by security agencies from smugglers. The authorities handed the 1500-year-old sculptures over to the National Museum in Karachi. It was expected that the museum authorities will proudly put them up on display.
Instead, the idols – 3 of them – were found lying under an open sky in the garbage dump of the museum.
The other two were placed outside the office of the director general, who according to The Express Tribune, is “supposed to preserve rare artefacts, not use them as glorified garden decorations”.
There is no denying the fact that Pakistan has a weird way of teaching history to its students. In fact, history books in Pakistan deal more in theology and proving false information than teach history. Such is the case that Pakistan blatantly lies about the Partition of India – its own birth – to its own students. And their history books make no mention of their Hindu past.
The history books have been criticized by learned Pakistani at various platforms both national and international. They have accused the Pakistani establishment of fomenting hate against Hindus in particular and other minorities in general through the history textbooks. Though much of the blame has been placed on General Zia ul-Haq’s ‘program of Islamization’ of the country, subsequent political leaders, too, have received flak for allowing the continuation of false and hate-filled narratives in the country.
The manner in which the museum officials treated the idols, therefore, come as no surprise. The report says that the idols have been facing the vagaries of the weather for months now. They were part of a massive recovery of 395 other rare objects in 2012.
The Buddha idols belong to either Gandhara civilization, one of the most progressive times in the history of that region of the Indian sub-continent. The report says that hundreds of other artefacts and heritage sites around the country are lying in shambles.
Two days ago, Pakistan unveiled a 1700-year old sleeping Buddha statue in the conservative Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region. Many of the statues found at the site are headless. The unveiling was met by protests from fundamentalists forcing the authorities to shut down roads leading to the venue.
And in its defense, the director of the museum said that nothing will happen to the idols even if they lie on the garbage pile because they are made of “black schist stone”. But schist is vulnerable to water and oxygen and can turn into clay.
Just in case you did not know the museum houses this idol, too:
It is the idol of the ‘Priest King’ of Mohenjo-Daro. The idol is 17.5 in height and 11 cm in width and is a soapstone figurine. It is sad that a museum which houses one of the world’s most prized artefacts has no place for equally valuable others.