With scholarship and enterprise

Pakistan's production of books is tied to educational publishing, but the future beckons.

Any account of the history of publishing in Pakistan should, in all fairness, start with Lahore, the publishing centre for British India. Under the British, most publishing was in the hands of Hindu publishers. With Partition, most Hindu publishers migrated to India, leaving a nearly complete vacuum in the publishing industry of the newly founded Pakistan, which the Muslim publishers in Lahore tried to fill. What success they achieved was due mainly to the fact that, from 1947 to 1962, the government of Pakistan followed British India's policy of allowing private-sector publishers to produce textbooks for government schools. This work subsequently formed the bulk of the publications in Pakistan, and provided the bread and butter for its nascent publishing industry.

Slowly, publishers such as Sheikh Muhammad Ashraf, Sheikh Ghulam Ali & Sons, Qaumi Qutb Khana and Ferozsons of Lahore, along with Urdu Academy Sindh and Shaikh Shaukat Ali of Karachi, began to make headway in identifying and developing local authors. However, this advantageous position changed shortly after the onset of General Ayub Khan's martial-law rule, in 1958. Instead of allowing multiple private publishers to compete in the textbook market, the public sector was granted the exclusive right to publish all textbooks for state schools from classes 1 to 12, which were to be prescribed by a single textbook board, created in 1962. This board was later divided into five bodies, one for each province.

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