ISLAMABAD - President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani have urged all Pakistanis of all ages, particularly educational institutions, parents and media, to promote the habit of book reading.

In his message on National Book Day being observed today (Sunday) the President complimented the Prime Minister and the government for declaring April 22 every year as the National Book Day. This decision will, no doubt, inculcate and promote the habit of book reading among the people.

Books, he said, have been described by Charles Eliot as “the quietest, the most constant of friends” and the “most accessible and the wisest of counsellors and the most patient of teachers.”  Zardari said the decision to observe the National Book Day every year is yet another first by the present government. It demonstrates the importance the present government and the PPP attaches to promoting book culture in the country. Indeed book is an integral part of PPP’s literary heritage.

He said all elected Prime Minister of the PPP have themselves been authors and voracious readers of books. Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto cherished books gifted to her and used to gift autographed books as a token of her acknowledgement and appreciation. He said it was therefore natural that the lead to observe the National Book Day is also taken by the PPP.

Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani said the purpose of declaring April 22 as National Book Day is aimed at highlighting the importance of book reading and encouraging the citizens of Pakistan to spare some time for turning to books. 

He said books are not only repository of knowledge but also a gateway to the world of enlightenment.  He said they play critical role in intellectual, psychological and moral development of human beings.  Gilani said our great religion, Islam puts a lot of premium on meditation and ordains its followers to acquire knowledge He said 21st century is century of knowledge and only those nations can compete in today’s hi-tech world and carve ot an honourable niche in the comity of nations who dedicate themselves to making knowledge be-all and end-all of their existence.

The Prime Minister said to promote culture of book reading among the public, he has directed the opening of National Book Museum. He said the government has also established travelers books clubs at Karachi and Lahore airports and also established a series of village book clubs dedicated to Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto in remote and far-flung areas of the country. He called on universities, educational institutions, parents and media to realise their responsibility and inculcate ingrained habit of reading books among the youths.