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7 July 2009
Insecurity forces archaeologists to abandon digs in Pakistan

Foreign archaeologists involved in excavation work to explore the Indus Valley Civilisation in Pakistan have left the country due to the war-like situation. The experts from the US, Europe and UK uncovered the mysteries of the Indus Valley Civilisation for the world during their research spanning decades. The teams, consisting of senior professors Dr Richard H Meadow, Professor JM Kenoyer, Dr Jean-Francois Jarrige and late Prof George F Dales, had conducted extensive research in different parts of Pakistan. A majority of the areas that were a part of the Indus Valley Civilisation became Pakistan after the partition of the sub-continent in 1947.
     Sources in the Federal Archaeology Department said that the experts had to leave the country after the increase in the wave of violence and terrorism, which led to the assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto. "Their embassies were already warning them to be careful while working in the areas like Harappa, Mohenjodaro, Taxila, Mehrgarh and other areas in Pakistan, all of them finally left the country after the assassination of Benazir Bhutto," an Archaeology Department official said.
     The Indus Valley Civilisation, dating back to 2,600 BCE, mainly covered the area that is now Pakistan, with its traces in neighbouring countries like India, Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and China. However, the sources said, the international experts were still keen on resuming the abandoned research work in the country, despite being worried about the security situation. They said the experts were wondering when, if ever, they would be able to resume their excavation. The sources said the researcher had now been compelled to focus only on the parts of the Indus Valley Civilisation in the Indian state of Gujarat.
     Federal Archaeology Department Northern Circle Director Salimul Haq said that there was not a single foreigner working on any research or excavation project in the country. He said the department tried its best to facilitate the researchers, but their own embassies were sceptical about their stay in Pakistan. He said the local archaeologists were trying to take over the research work. Art historian Prof Dr Ajaz Anwar said that local archaeologists lacked the expertise to continue the excavation work, as compared to experts from Harvard, Cambridge, Berkley and other globally acclaimed educational institutions. Historian Prof Dr Mubarak Ali said the departure of international archaeologists was a great loss for the country and the government should try to convince and facilitate these people to come back to Pakistan.

Source: Daily Times (29 June 2009)

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