January 29, 2014

Book party for Malala canceled in Pakistan


Malala Yousafzai

Malala Yousafzai

Yesterday, the city of Peshawar, Pakistan was supposed to host a book launch event for teenage activist Malala Yousafzai’s book I Am Malala. The memoir by the young advocate for women’s education has just been released in her native Pakistan, but the celebration to mark the occasion was canceled at the last moment.

The BBC reported on the cancelation of the Peshawar launch yesterday, and there are some conflicting answers about exactly what happened. Dr. Khadim Hussain, of the Bacha Khan Education Trust (a nonprofit education network), had organized  the event along with Peshawar University’s Area Study Centre and the Strengthening Participatory Organisation, a civil society NGO. He told BBC Urdu that they weren’t able to go ahead due to “direct intervention by the provincial government.”

Hussain contends that in addition to the police not providing security, the university’s administration received direct pressure to cancel: “Two ministers of the KP government put pressure on the university administration to call off the program. Some important state functionaries also made telephone calls to senior professors of the Area Study Centre.”

Police chief Ijaz Khan, on the other hand, says that they didn’t receive enough notice or information to provide sufficient security, and that the university administration itself had voiced some reservations over Area Study Centre’s plans for the book launch, after which permission for the programme was withheld.” And meanwhile, local politician Imran Khan of the PTI party — which controls the government of Peshawar’s province — seemed somewhat baffled by the turn of events:

This is not the first time that Yousafzai has met with resistance to her book in her native Pakistan: in November, I, Malala was banned from private schools around the country. She and her family currently lives in the UK; Malala was not expected to attend the launch event herself.


Nick Davies is a publicist at Melville House.