The Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh, Scotland has appealed to the Pakistan government to release 4,000 botany textbooks, which have been held up at the Karachi Customs for a year. The books are supposed to be distributed to schools, universities and environmental groups across Afghanistan.
Ian Hedge, from the Botanic Garden, said that a consignment of 10 tonnes of books arrived safely in Pakistan in February 2011. He told the Scotland BBC Radio that the books have been stuck since then because of bureaucratic and political difficulties between Afghanistan and Pakistan.
“The books intend to help re-vivify academic life in Afghanistan and provide information about geography, ecology, climate and the need for conservation,” he said. “The impasse which is keeping the books at the port is terrible and very sad. There have been attempts to get it sorted out at ambassadorial level but we’re still waiting for the books.”
Hedge has been studying the plants of Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan since the 1950s. He said that while working on reference books of plants from the region, it became clear that Afghanistan was under-represented in collections, such as Herbarium at the Royal Botanic Garden.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 1st, 2012.