By Amir Abbas Turi
A non-profit education network intending to hold a ceremony launching a book by a teenage activist, Malala Yousafzai, shot by the Taliban, have been forced to cancel the event by the PTI-led coalition government in Peshawar amid security concerns. What a lame argument it is! The issue is not of banning a book launch, however, pre-planned right-wing’s misinformation against the valiant Pashtun daughter. Yes, this is the same mindset which entitled a terrorist, Hakeem Ullah Mehsud, involved in massacre of thousands of innocent folks, with the tag of ‘Shaheed’ – martyr.
Malala has described the memoir, ‘I am Malala’, as her own story – and that of millions of others denied the chance to go to school. This book is one of the master piece – I had have ever read – unfortunately, those folks did not; who kept on chanting slogans of change.
The book launch had been organised by Peshawar University’s Area Study Centre in collaboration with the Bacha Khan Education Trust (BKET), a non-profit education network. The event at Peshawar University was called off after police refused to provide security.
“It is true that we stopped them and there were many reasons for that.” PTI’s provincial Minster Shah Farman’s appalling remarks, just after the ban on the book launch; which kept on changing one after another. His elaboration of ‘many reasons’ was totally a baloney. He further said, “Any irrelevant activity will not be allowed to take place in educational institutions. This book is the personal writing of Malala Yousafzai and had nothing to with educational activities of the university and was being ‘used for political mileage.’”
What could we expect more from an information minister who has had not the idea of the internationally best seller book – terming it ‘irrelevant’? Conversely, PTI chief Imran Khan came with another diplomatic stance which he tweeted at Jan 28, “I am at a loss 2 understand why Malala’s book launch stopped in Peshawar. PTI believes in freedom of speech/debate, not censorship of ideas.”
Prof. Khadim Hussain, the head of the Bacha Khan Education trust which was supporting the launch ceremony, said the pressure to cancel the event was a sop to militants, he said; “They stopped us to please Taliban, we will soon announce another date for the book launching,” Dr. Hussain further added that Peshawar University is an autonomous body, and the provincial government has no right of interference in its internal matters. Many dignitaries were invited for launching ceremony of Ms. Yousafzai’s book.
The Peshawarites believe that Shah Farman or any other PTI Minister cannot take such step without the consent of Mr. Khan. Moreover, if Imran can force Javed Hashmi to take back his words, then why not Mr. Farman? – who constantly spewed venom against the courageous girl – Malala.
The world salutes Malala for her bravery and refusal to be defeated by terrorists. Nevertheless, unfortunately, her own country especially her province proscribed her book launch – deplorable! Instead of appreciating the valour of the proud daughter of Pakistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Malala’s book got ‘banned’ by a weak-kneed provincial government.
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”. We could take three dimensions out of Malala’s book: freedom of expression; importance of education; and a sane voice against militancy and terrorism.
The main problem of our parochial society is that neither we read nor we write, but do baseless criticism just for the sake of criticism. I can bet that Malala’s haters have not even touched the book, but, vehemently condemning and misquoting her. How could one jump into conclusion without reading the book? Ironic! I would strongly recommend reading this excellent write-up, especially to the naive and complicit supporters of the right-wing political parties – the Taliban apologists. Nonetheless, the voice of sanity must not be lost in the loud right-wing propaganda.
The writer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and he tweets @EngrTuri