ISLAMABAD - Two Pakistani archaeologists awarded with French award of the Order of Arts and Letters in reward of their services in art and heritage on Thursday.

The French government has awarded the Order of Arts and Letters to two Pakistani academicians, former director Taxila Institute of Asian Civilization Dr Muhammad Ashraf Khan and former director-general Department of Archaeology and Museums Dr Fazal Dad Kakar for their rendered services.

Ambassador of France Dr Mac Barety bestowed this award to the academicians on the behalf of the Government of France in a ceremony held here.

Minister for Education and Professional Training Shafqat Mehmood former Higher Education Commission (HEC) Chairman Dr Mukhtar Ahmed and family members attended the ceremony.

Both academicians had completed their PhDs from Paris-Sorbonne University, located in Paris.

They have great contribution in promoting Gandhara and Budha civilizations.   

Addressing the award ceremony, Ambassador of France Dr Mac Barety appreciated services of Dr Khan and Dr Kakar in the promotion of art and heritage, and stressed on French cooperation in the field of archaeology.

Dr Barety said, “You are the leading specialists Gandhara Art and Buddha civilization and your contribution has great value for us.”

He said that French government is offering scholarships to Pakistani youth with the hope that they will help promoting French Pakistan relations.  

The ambassador also mentioned the upcoming 60th anniversary of the Archaeological Missing of the Indus Valley on February 28.

He apprised the audience on the significance of the Gandhara civilization and the heritage accompanying Buddhist temples.

Minister for Education and Professional Training Shafqat Mehmood congratulated the accolades for conferring France prestigious award. He said this award is to acknowledge the services rendered by the professors in the promotion heritage.

The minister further said Pakistan and France can collaborate in number of areas.

The Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Order of Arts and Letters) is an Order of France, established in May 1957 by the Minister of Culture.

Its purpose is the recognition of significant contributions to the arts, literature, or the propagation of these fields.

Sharing his views, Dr Muhammad Ashraf thanked the French government for conferring this prestigious award and extended his services for the promotion of heritage.  

 Dr Khan has documented over 100 research journals or supervised his students. These journals are lying in the library of CNRS, Nanterre University, Paris.

He has great contribution in preserving and documenting heritage in Azad Jammu and Kashmir, Taxila and other areas of the country.