Khyber Agency: After nearly a decade of turmoil, active conflict and displacement in Khyber Agency that robbed the region of culture and education, a group of young people have voluntarily started a public library at Jamrud – the first in the agency.

The locals, especially the youth term this is a significant development, because of the virtual absence of culture and education and threats to education institutions at the hands of militants.

According to the State and Frontier Regions, 360 schools were destroyed in three agencies of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) during 2015,with at least 166 schools were destroyed in North Waziristan Agency, 139 in Khyber Agency and 55 in South Waziristan Agency.

“If we want to literacy to grow, we cannot just depend on schools and collages a,” said Asmat Afridi, the library caretaker.

He said the library, called Rehmat Public Library and named after the Rehmat Memorial Trust that helped establish it, had a capacity of 10, 000 books. “The local people are contributing and donating books and the total number of books has reached 1700 now.”

Rehmat Public Library: Photo by News lens Pakistan

Afridi said in absence of sponsorship and facilities, the library affairs are run voluntarily by the local youth who are still contributing “their best to the society despite the conflict that has robbed them of everything in recent years.”

Rehmat Public Library: Photo by News lens Pakistan

He termed the interest of local students in setting up a library and offering volunteer services to make it functional a sigh that the local people, that until recently were wary of public places due to bombings and incidents of terrorism, are now coming back to life.

According to the agency education authorities, a total of 102 schools – both boys and girls – have been destroyed during the ten-year-long militancy in the Bara subdivision of Khyber Agency alone. There are around 400 schools and colleges in the Bara tehsil. Around 64,000 students have abandoned education, either fleeing to safer places or because their village schools in Bara were destroyed.

Khyber Agency, one of the seven tribal agencies along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, has remained volatile since 2001. Along with conflict, militancy and attacks on NATO supplies going into Afghanistan through routes in the Khyber Agency, thousands of people have been displaced from the agency in recent months in the wake of military operations against militants there.

The Bara subdivision of Khyber Agency is among the areas worst hit by militancy. Hundreds of government-run primary, middle, high, higher secondary and collages in Bara had been closed down either by the government due to conflict or due to militant attacks on schools.

Dozens of the schools, including those for girls, were destroyed in bombing claimed by militants or operations carried out by the security forces against Taliban and other anti-state elements in the area.

After a decade of debilitating militancy that destroyed most of the infrastructure in the Khyber Agency, government run schools and colleges gradually reopened in the restive tribal district along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border in 2015.

Rehmat Public Library: Photo by News lens Pakistan
Rehmat Public Library: Photo by News lens Pakistan

About the people’s interest in the library and member criteria, Asmat Afridi said before 1st September , they only had 20 members but right after the library was formally opened, the number of members increased to 180, with mostly students from educational intuitions in the Khyber Agency seeking membership that is free of cost.

“He aim of the library is to promote education and polish students’ skills and help develop interest in research and reading among the local students,” said Afridi.

The library, even small,  is divided into several section with books available on a diverse disciplines including history, medicine, literature, general knowledge, culture, Islamic history and other relevant books related to school, college and university syllabi. There are also some books on the primary level children.

In the spirit of providing equal opportunity to all, the library is open to women only on Saturdays in an agency that still has a very conservative outlook on female education. The step, said Asmat Afridi, is taken to encourage women to come to library without fear or inhibitions.

Rehmat Public Library: Photo by News lens Pakistan
Rehmat Public Library: Photo by News lens Pakistan

At the moment, the daily turn out of visitors at the library is approximately 10 to 20 people but it is increasing by the day as more and more people get awareness about the library in their area.

Attaullah Afridi, President of Rehmat Memorial Trust said the library aimed at provide an opportunity to the tribal students to become aware about developments in the rest of the world, to educate themselves and read.

“The conflict in the region has undermined the culture of seeking knowledge and education and we have been planning for the past 8 years about how to counter this,” said Afridi.  “With this library, we have finally hit upon an idea that would help raise literacy and create intellectual curiosity among the people.”

He said the library was totally based on the struggles of the students. He appreciated the help of those contributed books and volunteer services   to help establish the library.

Rehmat Public Library: Photo by News lens Pakistan
Rehmat Public Library: Photo by News lens Pakistan

He mentioned that the place where the library is now was once famous for shops selling drugs. He said they were looking for sponsorship upgrade this library by introducing e-library services that would help students to access knowledge and books easily.

Saima Malik, 19, a student of Bachelor’s in English told News Lens Pakistan she was a member of the library since last month. The membership, she said, helped her access books that helped her study.

“I am very happy with the library that has provid the first ever opportunity to girls in Bara Tehsil to continue education,” said Malik. “We have an exclusive day for women which is very good in that it helps us avail the facility comfortably.”

Aziz Ullah Khan, a student of 2nd year, is an avid reader of general knowledge books.

“I daily visit the library and read books here right after the collage,” said Khan. “It really help me improve my general knowledge and other information.”

Khan said he lived in a place where they didn’t have media or television to access information. “The opening of library is a ray of hope for me. I am very happy that the library will help us in every stage of education.”


  1. یہ حکومت وقت کے لئے شرم کی بات ہے کہ حکومتی پالیسیوں نے تمام دینی وعصری تعلیمی اداروں کو نیست ونابود کردیاہے اب عوام ہی آگے آرہے ہیں اورنجی سیکٹرمیں علم کی شمع جلا کر معاشرے کو تعلیم دینے کے مواقع فراہم کررہے ہیں ۔ان نوجوانوں پر سلام ہو اورمعصومہ جی آپ کو خراج تحسین پیش کرتے ہیں کہ خون آلود اورپالیسی مار علاقوں میں بہترین رپورٹ تیار کرلی ہے۔ امید ہے آئندہ بھی ایسی ہی کاوشیں کرکے معاشرے کی برائیوں کے خلاف قلم کا استعمال کریں گی
    ثمر گل مروت چیئر مین ڈسٹرکٹ پریس کلب ضلع لکی مروت


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