Grade 7 book seized in Punjab for printing Malala’s picture

Published July 13, 2021
Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai pauses during an interview with Reuters at a local hotel in Islamabad on March 30, 2018. — Reuters
Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai pauses during an interview with Reuters at a local hotel in Islamabad on March 30, 2018. — Reuters

LAHORE: The Punjab Curriculum and Textbook Board (PCTB) on Monday confiscated the social studies book for grade 7 published by the Oxford University Press (OUP) for printing the picture of Malala Yousufzai alongside that of 1965 war hero Maj Aziz Bhatti Shaheed in the list of important personalities.

Pictures of some important personalities had been published on page 33 of the book that 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 Yousufzai.

Already circulated in various educational institutes, sources said the PCTB, police and other agencies were conducting raids on shops across the city even at the time the report was filed to confiscate copies of the book for publishing Malala’s picture besides that of Aziz Bhatti.

On Monday, a team of officials first conducted a raid on the OUP office in Mini Market, Gulberg and confiscated the entire stock of the book. They also handed over a letter to the press, stating that the book had not been issued a No-Objection Certificate (NOC).

One of the publishers on condition of anonymity told Dawn that the book had been submitted to the PCTB for a review and to seek an NOC in 2019. The board, after reviewing its contents, did not approve it for publishing. “The Oxford University Press has published the book despite not being issued the NOC,” he said.

He said the PCTB officials, police and other agencies had visited his shop, inquired about the book and read out the orders about confiscation of the book.

PCTB Managing Director Farooq Mazhar was not available for comments till the filing of this report, while its spokesman claimed the book was confiscated for being published without an NOC.

Last year, the PCTB had banned 100 textbooks it deemed “against” the two-nation theory, or “unethical and illegal”.

It had stated that some of the books had not printed even the correct date of birth of Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah and poet Allama Iqbal, while some others contained “blasphemous material” and incorrect maps of the country. Similarly, there were 36 districts of Punjab, but some of these books mentioned 35.

It had also banned a booklet series, Infant Mathematics, allegedly published without its approval. The booklet was found to be in violation of Section 10 of the Punjab Curriculum and Textbook Board Act 2015.

Published in Dawn, July 13th, 2021

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