The Board of Governors of Pakistan National Council of the Arts makes it clear to the public that they unanimously decided on the case of returning the Shemza paintings to their rightful owner. This Board, appointed by the current Government, is clearly committed to making PNCA a professional and a national Council in the true sense. It will stand by the most exemplary
standards and will not bow down to any pressure tactics displayed by those resisting reforms. The Board on 15th of July 2020, deliberated on the issue and agreed that keeping Anwar Jalal Shemza’s paintings at the National Art Gallery, which Mary Shemza loaned to PNCA in 1985 and has been continuously asking to be returned, was a violation of her rights. It was an
embarrassment for PNCA and for the country to keep this work by force, and also shows criminal neglect on the part of past managements.
We feel strongly that it is important to do the right thing. The wishes of the Mary Shemza, wife of the late artist, need to be carried out for future generations to understand that loaned art is only borrowed and needs to be returned to its rightful owners.
Under the leadership of the Federal Minister, Mr. Shafqat Mehmood, we are also committed to make PNCA and all its offices professional as per international standards and will fully support the current DG in executing full reforms of PNCA. The Board is constituted of experienced and credible artists and literary figures from all arts and from every province of Pakistan. There are 20 outstanding experts in culture and arts including
Shahid Mehmood Nadeem, Naeem Pasha, Asma Khan, Mansoor Rahi, Parveen Malik, Amjad Islam Amjad, Deepak Perwani, Samina Peerzada, Farhan Bogra, Abdulla Baloch, Zaid Bashir,
Tina Sani, Taqi Akhundzada, Ghazala Rehman, Rashid Rana, Akram Dost, Ahmad Shah, Muniza Hashmi, and 8 ex-officio members from different government departments like PTV, PBC, MOFA and Heritage Division, the administrative Ministry. Federal Minister Shafqat Mehmood is the chairperson.
After the paintings were returned to the legal representative of Mary Shemza, there was a letter written by Ijaz ul Hassan which we received, objecting to the return of artworks. In addition, there were several news articles with one-sided point of view, accusing PNCA of illegal action.
We want to make it clear that what PNCA’s Board decided was not only legal but ethical and a precedent that needs to be set for future.
Dr Fouzia Saeed
Secretary, Board of Governor National Council of the Arts