A Pakistani court on Thursday stopped the construction of a stage at the historic site of Mohenjodaro for an upcoming festival being spearheaded by Pakistan People’s Party chief Bilawal Bhutto Zardari as a "cultural coup".
Sindh High Court Chief Justice Maqbool Baqar asked the provincial chief secretary, heritage secretary and advocate general to halt construction of the stage.
The order came in response to a petition that asked the court to take suo motu notice, stating that Mohenjodaro had been declared a heritage site by the UNESCO and the Sindh government should not use it for political purposes.
The petition stated that thousands of people would attend the opening ceremony of the Sindh Festival, which could put the ruins of one of the world's ancient civilisations at risk.
An 80 feet wide and 60 feet long stage was being built at the ruins for the opening ceremony of the Sindh Festival that will begin on February 1.
Bilawal, the son of slain former premier Benazir Bhutto, launched a campaign to conserve the heritage of his home province of Sindh with the two-week festival.
Responding to criticism, he tweeted: "inspected MD site with Director Archaeology (30yrs experience). Explained how every precaution has been taken. Remains are safe. More soon."
The Mohenjodaro ruins built around 2600 BC are one of Pakistan's six UNESCO World Heritage sites that are deemed places of special cultural importance.
Earlier, a letter was sent to the representative UNESCO in Islamabad by a group of individuals, inviting attention to Mohenjodaro's archaeological destruction in the name of the "cultural coup".
The ruins, discovered in 1922 by British archaeologist Sir John Marshall, are 425 km north of the port city of Karachi and are one of the largest settlements of the Indus Valley.
Image: A city settlement of the Indus Valley Civilisation at Mohenjodaro
Photograph Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons