Arms dealer Muhammad Jahanzeb slinks away from his stand, past colleagues testing machine guns, to study in the quiet of the nearby library when the din of Pakistan’s most notorious weapons market gets intolerable.
The 28-year-old admitted to AFP that he occasionally sneaks away from his collection of vintage rifles, forging assault guns, and a terrifying assortment of polished flick knives because it is his favorite hobby.
We now have a library, which was something I’ve always dreamed of.
The settlement of Darra Adam Khel, which is located in the extremely conservative tribal region, has a history of insurgency and drug trafficking, earning it a reputation as a “wild west” crossing point between Pakistan and Afghanistan.
It has long been known for its black market bazaars stocked with forged American rifles, replica revolvers, and rip-off AK-47s.
However, a nearby town library is thriving thanks to its selection of books, which includes Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf, the teenage vampire romance novel Twilight, and Abraham Lincoln’s Life, Speeches, and Letters.
“We were initially dejected. What purpose do books serve in a place like Darra Adamkhel, people questioned? Who could possibly read this?” recalled creator Raj Muhammad, 36. We currently number more than 500 members.