Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf Chairperson Imran Khan said in a Twitter update that he did not understand why the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) government had stopped the launch of Malala Yousafzai’s book I am Malala on Tuesday.
The book was scheduled to launch today at Peshawar University, however, the K-P government stopped the launch.
“We were forced to cancel it. We were pressurised by provincial ministers and university vice chancellor,” Sarfaraz Khan, the Area Study Centre director, told AFP.
“When I refused to follow this illegal order (to cancel the event) police refused to provide security.”
Khan said he received numerous phone calls from two provincial ministers, followed by the university vice-chancellor, registrar and senior police officers.
Minister for Information Shah Farman told Express News that the government banned the book launch in the university as it was not relevant to its curriculum. He added that the K-P government does not object to the book itself, but is opposed to its launch in a university.
Farman stated that allowing educational institutes to launch books which are not relevant to their curriculum would be like “opening pandora’s box”.
“It was just to get more US funding,” Farman said.
Police had also refused to provide security at the book launch which had been organised by the Bacha Khan Education Foundation and an NGO.
In a heated debate between BKEF Managing Director Khadim Hussain and Farman on Express News, Hussain claimed that Farman had called Malala’s book “controversial”. He alleged that the reason given by Farman for stopping the book launch was only an excuse.
Hussain, the head of the Bacha Khan Education trust, a local charity which was supporting the launch ceremony, said the pressure to cancel the event was a sop to militants.
“They stopped us to please Taliban, we will soon announce another date for the book launching,” Hussain told AFP.
The book describes Malala’s life under the Taliban’s brutal rule in the Swat valley in the mid-2000s and hints at her ambition to enter Pakistani politics.
Some private schools banned it from their premises in November due to what they called its “anti-Pakistan and anti-Islam content”.
A senior police official said allowing the ceremony to go ahead would have meant attracting Taliban attacks in future.
“Everyone knows that Taliban are against Malala, so we do not want to open another front for ourselves,” the official said, requesting anonymity.
Awami National Party (ANP) Senator Zahid Khan said that the government put a restriction on the book because it was scared of a violent backlash by militant groups.
Aseefa Bhutto Zardari and other politicians criticised the K-P government’s move, and expressed both surprise and concern.
Bakhtawar Bhutto Zardari spoke up against the ban as well, calling for a ban of Imran Khan’s book in Sindh.
The book, ‘I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban’ has been popular internationally and appears on The New York Times’s best seller list.