The library and museum at Ghani Dheri complex in Charsadda remain at the mercy of harsh weather, dilapidated infrastructure and the absence of facilities. The institution was constructed between 2000 and 2002 by the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government to recognise the literary contributions of Pashto poet Khan Abdul Ghani Khan, better known as Ghani Khan. It is situated in the poet’s ancestral village of Utmanzai.
The site lies in ruins after years of neglect. The museum needs artefacts and to manage them—a curator, while the empty corridors of the library still await a librarian.
A majority of people only visit the park on the site. The story of the decline etched on the library’s walls has gone unnoticed.
A sunken legacy
The previous library building sunk due to its poorly-laid foundation. Cracks emerged on the walls of the Mushaira Hall on the site and it was permanently closed down.
As a result, the books were shifted to the museum. However, the structure lacks a whole range of facilities needed by both museum and library.
The building of the museum is still intact but has been damaged by water seepage. There are only a few items on display there.
Although the understaffed library has 3,000 books, it only has 50 members. Most of these members were registered when the library was established. It is also understaffed.
Insiders familiar with the matter told The Express Tribune no new books have been added. More often than not, books borrowed from the library are never returned. As a result, the shelves have fewer books and look emptier than they did when the library was shifted to the museum.
Cycle of inefficiency
“During the previous government’s tenure, the site was used as a wedding hall by influential politicians,” a museum employee told The Express Tribune, requesting anonymity. “The government has shown no interest in the site.”
He added Ghani Dheri is merely another picnic spot for residents of the district and many families frequently visit the park on the site.
“So far, we were paid Rs4,000 per month,” another staff member said. “However, our salary has been increased to Rs10,000 now.” He added, “Many employees are not performing their duties in a satisfactory manner.”
According to employees, a junior clerk looks after the library as there is no librarian. The museum is headed by a gallery assistant who says employees seldom come to work.
The new head of the museum and library, Mir Hayat, told The Express Tribune, “I had to ask some of the junior staff members to moonlight to earn more money as they hadn’t been paid in three months.”
Hayat, who was recently appointed, said employees are paid only Rs10,000; well below the minimum wage. He said they have filed an application to officials in this regard.
Hayat said he was trying to address these challenges. “This site has historical importance [and] we have not abandoned [it],” said Hayat, who is a BPS-16 officer.
According to Hayat, both buildings have been constructed on an artificial elevation. “A heavy structure cannot be built on the site,” he said.
“It needs a proper foundation. As a result, a building collapsed a few years after it was constructed.”
Officials have also asked authorities to ensure artefacts found from historical sites in Charsadda are displayed at the museum. However, little has been done to fulfil these requests so far.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 16th, 2016.
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