ISLAMABAD - The French govt on Wednesday honoured two Pakistani archaeologists with the awards in recognition of their significant contributions in the field of archaeology.

Ambassador of France Dr Marc Barety gave away the award of Officer of “Arts et Lettres” to former Director Taxila Institute of Asian Civilisation, Quaid-i-Azam University Prof. Dr Muhammad Ashraf Khan and the award of Knight of “Arts et Lettres” to former Director General Department of Archaeology and Museums Dr Fazal Dad Kakar.

Minister for Education, Professional Training and Heritage Shafqat Mahmood was present on the occasion.

The French Ambassador in his address acknowledged the services of both the archaeologists and their continuous research and support to the training of a young generation of Pakistani archaeologists, who would study in France and work in Pakistan with the support of the world renowned museum “Musee Guimet” of Paris which had the most comprehensive collection of Gandhara Art.

He reminded the importance of Gandhara civilisation and the extraordinary heritage present today with all the Buddhist temples.

He also congratulated the government of Pakistan for its initiative to organise a full mapping of the country and enhance the importance of its heritage. He reminded the importance of French cooperation in the field of archaeology, in particular with the discovery of Mehrgarh site by Jean-Francois Jarrige in 1974 and the continuation.

The Ambassador signaled the 60th anniversary of the Archaeological Mission of Indus Valley that will take place on February 28, on the site of Mohenjo Daro and thanked the authorities of the Sindh province for their continuous support.

He said that both the recipients had graduated from the prestigious French University of La Sorbonne in Paris where they got a PhD and both of them were fluent in French language and expert in French culture.

The French Ambassador said that both Pakistani archaeologists had demonstrated throughout their career that their training in France had influenced them as they had used the training for development of the field in Pakistan and building up ties with France.

He said that both were reliable channels for promoting cultural exchanges between Pakistan and France. He expressed the hope that they would continue their contribution.

He said that the Order des Arts et des Lettres (Order of Arts and Letters) was established in May 1957 by the Minister of Culture.

He added its purpose was to recognise significant contributions to the arts, literature, or the propagation of these fields.

”On the occasion of celebrating more than 60 years of cooperation in Pakistan, I assure further cooperation from the government of France to Pakistan.” 

In their speeches both recipients thanked the government of France for honouring them with precious French awards and expressed the hope that cooperation between both the countries in various fields including archaeology would continue in future.

Talking to media, Federal Minister Shafqat Mahmood said that Pakistan and France were enjoying friendly relations and added that the French government was providing its support in many areas.

He said that the government of France awarded scholarships to Pakistani students as well. He expressed the hope that the collaboration between the two countries would further enhance in future. He said both the Pakistani archaeologists had contributed a lot in their respective fields and congratulated them on receiving French awards.