Notes from the Field

From Pakistan: Delivering Books to Peshawar and Quetta

May 28, 2008

In March, I traveled to Quetta and Peshawar to oversee the distribution of 15,000 books to the University of Balochistan and the University of Peshawar.

Books can annihilate a sense of distance, whether between people or places. In Pakistan, donations from Books for Asia (BFA) ” amounting to 2.5 million books since 1954 — have traditionally concentrated on Pakistan’s major cities, offering great benefit to public schools and universities, libraries, and nongovernmental organizations. Now there is an effort underway to expand the program in Balochistan, the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). In March, a large donation reached Quetta, in Balochistan, and Peshawar, in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP), helping to ensure that more Pakistani students can access information.

Our book fairs in Quetta and Peshawar introduced available books to other local institutions, besides the universities, as well. Through the Pakistani media and The Asia Foundation’s other projects, the amplified presence of BFA’s educational resources is now taking root in these traditionally underserved areas. Recently, BFA made an initial donation of approximately 300 books to the Women Councilors Association in the NWFP, which was formed with the assistance of the Foundation; another donation of 300-500 books will come in June. The women are using these books to develop their resource center, which is primarily used by the female councilors, but is also open to other women in the province.

The Foundation’s BFA program is enriched by its over fifty-year presence in Pakistan and will continue to donate books to government institutions, such as the Election Commission of Pakistan, which the Foundation worked with earlier this year through its Supporting Free and Fair Elections project. We look forward to other ways to complement our health, economic empowerment, gender equality, and governance programs by donating books to inspire institutional development and a long-term devotion to learning.

Syed Zahid Abbas is the Program Manager for Books for Asia in Pakistan. He can be reached at

View all posts by Syed Zahid Abbas

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