Only a reading society can counter militancy, extremism: Irfan Siddiqui

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Launch of Shehr-e-Kitab another feather in NBF’s cap

Zubair Qureshi

Islamabad—Adviser to Prime Minister on National History & Literary Heritage, Irfan Siddiqui has pinned hopes on books and reading of books to counter trends of extremism in society. “Only a reading generation can stand tall and strong to the onslaught of extremism and defeat it,” said he while addressing the launching ceremony of ‘Shehr-e-Kitab’ a project of the National Book Foundation here in F-7 Markaz on Sunday. A number of poets, writers and intellectuals including Chairman Pakistan Academy of Letters Dr Qasim Bughio, ex-foreign secretary Akram Zaki, Dr Jamal Nasir, Dr Ayub Sabir, Prof Jamil Yousaf, Dr Riaz Ahmad RIaz, Dr Anwar Naseem, Jabbar Mirza, Haleem Qureshi and Muhammad Aslam Rao were also part of the ceremony. Besides, a large number of bibliophiles, readers and scholars had turned up to witness a unique book-friendly project.
Irfan Siddiqui despite the fact he was facing difficulty in speaking due to a minor accident a day earlier, spoke at length on the utility and usefulness of the book reading habits in society. The Book City or Shehr-e-Kitab is a permanent ‘Book Fair’ participated by more than 28 booksellers and publishers of the country where residents of Islamabad would find books on discounted rates. Irfan Siddiqui said after Islamabad, another Book City on similar lines is going to be set up in Karachi.
The land for this purpose has already been acquired. The Book City in Karachi would consist of more than a hundred stalls, he said.
In order to promote book culture and to enlighten the local message similar projects will be launched in rest of the provinces, Peshawar and other cities.
Dr Inamul Haq Javed Managing Director of the NBF highlighted various aspects of the Shehr-e-Kitab and apprised the audience of the challenges his team and he faced in realizing the ‘dream project’. In the heart of the Sector F-7, it was not easy to reclaim our plot from the land mafia that had made some constructions on it, said Dr Javed. However, he attributed the possession of land to the present government’s patronization and support, particularly that of Irfan Siddiqui who was keen to see books selling on discounted rates. “NBF has recently sold books for millions of rupees through organizing such book fairs and events and this goes to the credit of the collective teamwork of the NBF staff and support of the ministry,” said MD of the NBF.
Earlier, the Secretary National History & Literary Heritage Division, Mohsin S Haqqani spoke on the importance of “Shehr-e-Kitab” saying the nations that befriend books always lead the world.
On behalf of book stall holders Nadeem Iqbal Siddiqui hoped the wonderful project would contribute to promotion of book culture. Mehboob Zafar, the poet and stage secretary also highlighted importance of books for a dynamic, progressive society.

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