Wednesday Jul 14, 2021
Senator Sherry Rehman on Wednesday chided the Punjab government after the province's textbook board banned a school textbook that contained an image of education activist Malala Yousafzai.
The senator, speaking on the floor of the Senate, said: "If you cannot consider Benazir Bhutto and Malala Yousafzai as your heroes, then only God can help you."
Rehman said Punjab Curriculum and Textbook Board (PCTB) has removed Malala's images, just like former prime minister Benazir's images were removed from textbooks.
"Malala Yousafzai faced extremists and got a bullet in return," she said, asking what sort of a message the government planned on sending to the country's youth.
"You (government) say that we are a progressive society [...] what sort of a message is being given here, that should we not fight extremism?" she asked.
The lawmaker said the textbook board — through its actions — had falsely portrayed that Malala was not a hero. "You (Prime Minister Imran Khan) term Osama Bin Laden as a martyr and crown terrorists here."
A day earlier, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) had demanded the PCTB immediately withdraw the order of confiscating the school textbook in question.
A picture of a page inside the book circulating on social media suggests that the book was confiscated for including Malala's picture on an important personalities list.
According to a report published in Dawn, pictures of some important personalities had been published on page 33 of the book. They included Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, national poet Allama Iqbal, Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, Liaqat Ali Khan, legendary philanthropist Abdul Sattar Edhi, Begum Raana Liaquat Ali Khan, Nishan-i-Haider recipient Maj Aziz Bhatti Shaheed, and activist Malala Yousafzai.
"The PCTB's confiscation of a textbook - allegedly because it features a picture of Nobel laureate and rights activist @Malala Yousafzai - is a new low in the state's attempts to control information and manipulate public discourse," the HRCP said in a statement issued on Twitter.
"The PCTB must withdraw this order immediately," it added.
Issuing a clarification after the backlash, the PCTB said it had confiscated the social studies book as it was published despite not being issued a no-objection certificate.
A PCTB spokesperson said the entire stock of the book was picked up from a book market in Lahore and clarified that Malala's image was not the issue.
He said it was published by a private publisher without an NOC.
Last year, the PCTB had banned 100 textbooks being taught in private schools deeming them “anti-national” and “blasphemous”.
According to the banned list obtained by Geo.tv, 17 books were taught to class-I students, 18 were taught in class-II, 19 in class-III, 24 in class-IV, 13 in class-V, 4 in class-VI, three in class-VII, one to class-IX and one to both class-IX and X.