Everyone in Pakistan is familiar with knowledge rich Urdu Bazaars and everyone has been there at least once in their lives. All of the metropolitan cities, in Pakistan, have Urdu bazaars in them. If the history of it is traced, it will lead to us Mughal time period. The first bazaar was located in Delhi in a close proximity to the Lal Qila and it was destroyed by British Army after the War of Independence in 1857, as a show of power, but shortly after it was rebuilt. Literature written by great poets and writers, such as Ghalib, Mir and Manto etc, was published and sold in that Urdu bazaar of Delhi. There are people who believe that the place got its name because of Urdu language but in authenticity the language was named after this.

The beautiful valley of Quetta also has an Urdu bazaar but comparatively smaller than Lahore’s and is well-known by its old name “Archer Road”. This bazaar joins perpendicularly two parallel roads, Shahra-e-Liaqat and Masjid road and it is 3 minutes’ drive away from Civil Hospital Quetta. It comprises of 30 to 35 shops which include bookshops, stationeries, publishers, school uniform shops and couple of tailors. On the standard days, all of the shops are opened around 10:00 am and get closed by 8:30 pm.

There are some very much old bookshops and some were even built before independence. No one exactly knows when Archer Road was named Urdu Bazaar but the shopkeepers are pretty much sure that it was renowned by this name in the 70s. The owner of Khan’s Stationery said, “My shop is older than 100 years and my late great-grandfather established a business of selling and publishing books here. After him, my grandfather then my father ran this shop and now I am running it.” The owner of Sarwar Stationary Waseem Sarwar claimed, “My shop was built by my father in 1954”. Majority of the shops are old and are family businesses. There used to be a shop “Gandhi Jee” in this bazaar, which was famous for selling used books. This shop used to buy secondhand books from students who didn’t consider them necessary and sold them back to other students on a reasonable price, cheaper than the market. However, this shop vanished from existence and no one knows why. Some claim that the owner belonged to a minority community and was threatened to migrate and other claim that they just started another business in another city.

This Bazaar is the only place in Quetta where one can find books of any kind they want, except textbooks of the Federal Board. All kind of course books are available here. Any kind of book which is needed in the preparation of CSS and PCS can be found here. Books for MBBS, MA, MSc, BA, BSc and all the books related to the disciplines which are taught in BUITEMS, Balochistan University and SBK Women’s University. Some of these shops publish books and guides for textbooks of Balochistan board as well.

This bazaar also has old question papers for almost any test and exam ever conducted in Balochistan. Books for pre-school, elementary school and high school are also available here. Moreover, poetry, novels and other writings of famous Pakistani writers can be found easily over here. Anything other than books, which is related to education, can easily be found here. Uniforms for almost every school in Quetta, SBK Women’s University, QIMS and BUITEMS are available here. Shops are also packed with stationary items, school bags, schools shoes, lunch boxes and water bottles for students.

Shopkeepers feel very much proud in what they are doing, like they are doing something meaningful for this country by providing the means of education to the students. Books, which are published in this bazaar, are supplied into all of the backward areas of Balochistan. In this way this bazaar is not only contributing in the educational development of Quetta but also in all of the rural areas of Balochistan. Some of the shopkeepers faced issues by civil officers of Balochistan Government and alleged that these officers have a bulling behavior towards them. Some of them have been accused of encroachments and large sum of money was asked from them as a bribe. Urdu Bazaars, all over in Pakistan, are playing a very important role but they have never been appreciated as they should be. Government should take a particular care of these bazaars.


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