Asia

Pakistan lawyer files for return of Koh-i-Noor diamond

  • 4 December 2015
  • From the section Asia
A diamond-encrusted crown bearing the Koh-I-Noor Diamond lies on a coffin bearing the Queen Mother in April 2002 Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The jewel is in the crown worn by the Queen Mother, which was displayed on her coffin during her funeral

A petition demanding the return of the Koh-i-Noor diamond, one of the British Royal Family's Crown Jewels, has been filed in a Pakistan court.

The British got hold of the 105-carat diamond in 1849 when the East India Company annexed the region of Punjab.

The lawyer behind the suit argues the gem is part of Punjab's heritage, and belongs to Pakistan. Punjab was split between India and Pakistan in 1947.

Analysts say the court is unlikely to hear the case.

The petition comes weeks after an Indian pressure group reportedly instructed lawyers to begin legal proceedings in the High Court in London to demand the return of the jewel.

Over the years politicians in India have urged the return of the diamond to what they see as its rightful home.

In 1947, India was granted independence from the British empire, leading to the formation of two nations - India and Pakistan.

Punjab was one of the states partitioned between the two sides.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption A replica of the Koh-i-Noor has been displayed in India, which has long claimed the diamond

The Koh-i-Noor diamond was worn by the late Queen Mother and was displayed on top of her crown when her coffin lay in state after her death in 2002.

Experts say its ownership has changed many times and includes Mughal princes, Persian warriors, Afghan rulers and Punjabi Maharajas.

'Unlikely to succeed'

The Pakistani petition, lodged with a court in Lahore by Javed Iqbal Jaffry, names Queen Elizabeth II as a respondent.

"Grabbing and snatching it was a private, illegal act which is justified by no law," he told Reuters.

He is quoted as saying that he has written 786 letters to the Queen and Pakistani officials about it.

Javed Iqbal Jaffry is known in court circles in Lahore, as he often submits petitions on controversial subjects, the BBC's Shumaila Jaffery reports from Lahore.

There has never been a popular debate or campaign to get the Koh-i-Noor diamond returned in Pakistan, our correspondent adds.

However, analysts say that even if his petition is heard, it is very unlikely to achieve its objectives.

In 2010 David Cameron rejected calls for the diamond to be returned to India, saying such a move would set an unworkable precedent.

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