A Pakistani lawyer on Monday filed a plea in the Lahore High Court asking Islamabad to reclaim an iconic Mohenjodaro-era figurine called the ‘Dancing Girl’ from India, Dawn reported. Claiming that the Lahore Museum is the rightful owner of the artefact, Javed Iqbal Jaffrey petitioned the court to take suo motu action to ensure its return to Pakistan.

Jaffery said the statue was taken to India around 60 years ago, after the National Arts Council in Delhi has requested it, but that it was never returned. He stressed that the figurine's significance to Pakistan could be compared to Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa in Europe.

Pakistan National Museum of Arts Director General, Jamal Shah, had recently stated that Islamabad was mulling over petitioning the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation to intervene in the matter. Shah said, “This is important if we want to protect our heritage.”

A description issued by the Indian National Museum says the bronze figurine's features helped confirm two discoveries about the Indus Valley civilization – that the artists of the era knew metal blending and casting and that the society had developed dance and other performing arts.

The petition comes amid deteriorating relations between India and Pakistan. Diplomatic and military ties between the neighbouring countries took a hit after an Indian Army facility was attacked in Jammu and Kashmir's Uri on September 18. On September 29, the Indian Army announced that it had conducted surgical strikes against terror launchpads along the Line of Control.