A controversy erupted on Tuesday over teenage activist Malala Yousafzai’s bestselling book I am Malala. when the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provincial government stopped the University of Peshawar from holding a programme on it. Ms. Yousafzai, who was shot by the Taliban, lives in the U.K. Now, even her book cannot be discussed in her native province.
Dr. Khadim Hussain, director, Baacha Khan Trust Educational Foundation, one of the organisers, told The Hindu over phone from Peshawar that the function was planned 10 days in advance to discuss issues covered by the book.
On Monday evening, a minister from the provincial government of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Shah Farman, called him up and asked him to cancel the function saying it was a banned book.
Dr. Hussain said they were told they had no mandate.
“We said that freedom of expression, education and conflict were the three areas of debate and it was all connected with Central Asian studies. I told them the government should also come and be part of this debate,” he said.
Ms. Malala’s book was not banned and there was no reason to call off the programme on that basis, he pointed out.
Shiraz Paracha, spokesperson for the province’s Chief Minister, said that there was no official ban on the book and the university was an autonomous body which could take its own decisions.
PTI chairperson Imran Khan tweeted: “I am at a loss to understand why Malala’s book launch stopped in Peshawar. PTI believes in freedom of speech/debate, not censorship of ideas.”