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Wednesday Jun 26 2019

Rebuilding South Waziristan’s sole library

Inside South Waziristan's sole public library.—Image by Razia Mahsood

South Waziristan's only public library is in a distressing state of disrepair, after it was damaged in a series of military operations in the area.

Built in 1980 by Molvi Ahmed Hassan Laswandi, a Pashto poet, in his hometown of Kotkai, the library held a large collection of political, religious and historical books, most of which were personally donated by Laswandi and his family.

To this date, it remains the only public library available to the over 600,000 people in the mountainous region of South Waziristan.

Molvi Ahmed Hassan Laswandi with General Zia ul Haq.—Image by Razia Mahsood

Prior to Operation Rah-e-Nijat and Zarb-e-Azb, launched by the Pakistan army, to scrub the remote tribal areas of local and foreign militants, the library was frequented by local activists and college students.

However, during the series of military onslaughts, which began in 2009, the one-room building of the library was badly damaged. Several of the books were either burnt or stolen in the later years.

Locals say that they need the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government's support to help rebuild and restock the historical landmark.

Mahsood is the first woman citizen journalist in South Waziristan