A ceremony to launch teenage rights activist Malala Yousufzai’s book at a Pakistan university has been scrapped on the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government’s intervention on the grounds that it could not provide security for the event.
The book ‘I am Malala’ was to be launched on Tuesday at the University of Peshawar. The Bacha Khan Education Foundation (BKEF), Strengthening Participatory Organisation (SPO) and Area Study Centre had planned the ceremony.
“It (cancellation of the launch) is against the spirit of freedom of expression and promotion of education because holding a ceremony in honour of Malala Yousufzai means to scale up awareness about child rights,” Dr. Khadim Hussain, director of the BKEF was quoted as saying by the Dawn daily.
He said they had been informed by police late Monday that they could not provide security for the programme. “I was stopped by many people, including ministers, the vice-chancellor, registrar and police, from holding the programme,” Area Study Centre s director Sarfraz Khan said. The Pakistani Taliban, which had shot at Malala in 2012, had earlier warned shopkeepers in the region not to keep the book in their stores.
The report of the government stopping the book launch was criticised by many on various social media networks. “Pathetic of PTI govt to ban #Malala’s book. This is censorship! Where is our freedom of speech and expression?,” Aseefa Bhutto Zardari tweeted.
Adil Ansari, the head of cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan’s party’s social media wing tweeted, “Launching of book ‘I Am Malala’ was being organised at Pak Area Study Center, Peshawar University which is violation of rule; regulations”.
The report quoting sources said the director was first contacted by provincial Local Government Minister Inayatullah Khan, who belongs to Jamaat-e-Islami, and then by Information Minister Shah Farman of the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) asking him to stop the book launch.
“But the director made it clear to them that the ASC was an autonomous centre which did not come under the jurisdiction of the provincial government. After that he was approached by the vice-chancellor and registrar and both of them called for stopping the ceremony,” the report said.