Afghan students to Pakistan: Release our booksBy Zarghona Salehi May 12, 2012 - 19:26
KABUL (PAN): Schoolchildren and their parents on Saturday urged the Pakistani government to release four million textbooks stranded at the Karachi port. They said education had nothing to do with politics.
The Ministry of Education says the US last year printed seven million textbooks for secondary schools in Afghanistan, but so far only three million had reached the landlocked country.
The rest of the books could not be brought in after Pakistan closed a key supply route for foreign troops in Afghanistan. Islamabad stopped convoys carrying supplies for NATO-led soldiers after a cross-border attack killed 24 Pakistani soldiers in November 2011.
Pakistani Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani had asked the officials concerned to make efforts at releasing the books after President Hamid Karzai discussed the issue with him. However, no step has so far been taken in this regard.
Hassan Ali, an 11th grade student at the Syed Nasiri School in Kabul, said they faced problems due to a shortage of books. He asked the Pakistani government to allow the vehicles to transport the books to Afghanistan.
"Claims of friendship apart, Pakistan is clearly against Afghanistan. By stopping the books from reaching us, Pakistanis are blocking our development," he remarked.
Ali complained he and his fellows have been attending classes without having the books of geography and culture.
"The books stranded in Pakistan are our property, not of NATO. Pakistan should allow the books’ transportation if it considers us neighbours," said Sultan Ali, a resident of Taimani.
Education Ministry spokesman Imanullah Iman said they had discussed the matter with NATO and US Embassy officials. He added they had also asked the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to take up the issue with Pakistan.
"Unfortunately, Pakistan foreign ministry officials have mistaken the books as commercial. Our demand is the release of the four million textbooks stranded in Karachi," he explained.
Ghulam Mohammad Khan Wazir, press attaché at the Pakistani Embassy in Kabul, said the Pakistani ambassador to Afghanistan would discuss the issue with Education Minister Farooq Wardak on Sunday.