PESHAWAR: A public library in Pakistan’s northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, which remained closed for over a decade, has once again been made functional after a prominent cricket star urged people to support the cause by considering it as the first step to build the vital education sector of the country.
The library was established in Tank district, a rundown region on the edge of the South Waziristan tribal district, in the 1970s. However, it remained closed for about 15 years since the local administration lacked resources for the upkeep of the facility.
The project was taken up by Shahid Afridi, a legendary Pakistani cricket allrounder, whose foundation ultimately managed to accomplish it.
“We took the initiative and built a good project,” Afridi said in a video message. “I will request everyone to support education since Pakistan badly needs it.”
With a population of nearly 400,000 people, Tank witnessed years of conflict between militant groups and Pakistani security forces in the wake of the US-led invasion of Afghanistan after September 2001.
The violence uprooted hundreds of families residing in the area which remained internally displaced for a prolonged period.
Afridi said education was vital for the progress and development of a country, adding his foundation was tirelessly working for its promotion.
“It was a huge initiative to rebuild the library for male and female students since it required us to provide books and construct a proper place where people could come and study,” he added.
Afridi pledged to undertake the project while talking to Arab News in 2020 when images of the demolished facility went viral on social media.
Less than two weeks after making the announcement, he visited the northwestern region to inaugurate the renovation work.
Shakil Ahmad, who teaches at a private school in the city, said people going to the library were deeply indebted to the cricket star who had done a “commendable job.”
“The library building was dilapidated,” he recalled. “People had even started throwing garbage over here. However, students, teachers and other citizens can now visit this place to read newspapers and books.”
Afridi is also planning to set up a cricket academy in Tank to provide better sports facilities to people.