Almost two years after Pakistan’s first Shehr-e-Kitab opened in May 2016, the promised follow-up “Cities of Books” in Peshawar and Karachi have yet to materialize, and hopeful Pakistani readers would be ill-advised to hold their breath while waiting following the latest announcement from Advisor to PM Irfan Siddiqui.
The Shehr-e-Kitab project is a brave attempt at making books accessible at affordable prices but thus far the government has not matched words with actions when it comes to developing the project, despite an “overwhelming response” from locals in Islamabad.
Just this month the Shehr-e-Kitab in the capital will finally (March 10) get the long-awaited “Book Café” so buyers can get refreshments while browsing the discounted books made available from Pakistan booksellers like National Book Foundation, Mr. Books, Jahangir Books, Kitab Ghar, Idara-e-Ilm-o-Irfan, Al-Faisal Publishers, Book Finders, Old Book Corner, Book Man, Readers Point, Rabia Book House, Ilmi Book Depot, and Book Valley, among others.
Urdu Point reports that Siddiqui has said the Karachi Shehr-e-Kitab is next, but what does that mean?
As Pakistan’s Dawn wryly observed in May 2016, the first Shehr-e-Kitab
was finally inaugurated in the city on Sunday, 24 years after it was first promised.
According to Dawn then, Siddiqui promised the Karachi Shehr-e-Kitab would be three times bigger than the Islamabad venue.
That will be great if it eventually happens, but don’t hold your breath waiting.