PaRhnay waalouN kay naam!

Posted on August 7, 2006
Filed Under >Adil Najam, Books, Society
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Adil Najam

This newsitem in Dawn (7 August, 2006) by Bhagwandas say it all.

KARACHI, Aug 6: Over 20,000 books, including a number of precious and rare ones, of the Central Archeological Reference Library have been shifted to yet another location in the city for the fifth time in nearly a decade, it is learnt reliably on Sunday. …

The books of Central Archeological Reference Library, known as one of the best on the subject in the entire South Asian region, located on the ground floor of the department’s head office were first shifted during mid 1990s after torrential rains. The library was inundated with knee-deep rainwater that ruined a number of rare books.

The books were shifted to the exploration and excavation branch office on Sharea Faisal, where they were kept for long. Later, these books were shifted to the Flag Staff House Museum and after remaining there for some time these books were shifted back to the exploration and excavation branch.

The authorities seemed least concerned with the fate of rare books once again ordered their relocation. This time the books were shifted to the department’s head office on Shaheed-i-Millat Road. However, as the head office had been shifted to Islamabad, thousands of rare books were transferred back to the exploration and excavation branch.

The sources said that with each shifting a number of rare and precious books went missing while many others had been ruined owing to the repeated relocation and transportation exercises on which a huge amount of public money was spent. Besides, they said, the library remained closed for long each time the books were shifted….

Over 70,000 publications of the federal archeology and museums department have also been shifted from the Shaheed-i-Millat Road office building to the corridors of the National Museum, which is infested with termite. When this scribe visited the museum, water seeped from the ceiling had gathered near the publications. Sources said that the department planned to shift these publications to the rooms, where Contemporary Art Gallery was set up, next to the Quran Gallery in the museum. Ironically, major portions of the Contemporary Art Gallery have been closed since long owing to the termite attack. The shifting of these publications from the corridors to the art gallery may save them from rainwater but not from termite attack.

The sources said that though the National Museum, which was under continuous termite onslaught since long, had spent large sums to control the menace, it had never been eliminated completely. It reoccurs shortly after the anti-termite treatment is carried out. Neither the organisation carrying out the anti-termite operation nor the department officials had been taken to task for their failure to control the termite, thus, raising doubts that they wanted to keep the issue alive so the department continued spending funds.

One response to “PaRhnay waalouN kay naam!”

  1. Bilal Zuberi says:

    This is extremely sad. It reminds of (a) pictures of the dilapidated Afghan museums after the Taliban were pushed out, and (b) of the Karachi museum (ajaaib ghar) which was so not attractive, informative or interesting to curious 10-15 yr olds (which is when I was taken there on school field trips). In the absence of committment from the governmentto preserve aour heritage, even though it hurts to say it, maybe we should just loan a lot of our artifacts t countries that can take better care of them until we figure out how to take care of them ourselves. Until then, we are just losing our precious collections one item at a time.

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