The Pakistani provincial assembly on Tuesday passed a law that mandated that no material related to Islam can be published in the textbooks unless it is approved by the Muttahida Ulema Board, Pakistan. The assembly unanimously passed the Punjab Curriculum and Textbook Board (Amendment) Bill 2020 tabled by MPA Khadija Umar of the ruling party’s ally, PML-Q.
As per the Amendment, content in the textbook or part of curriculum related to Islam in Islamiyat, history, Pakistan studies, Urdu literature or any other subject will have first have to seek approvals from the Muttahida Ulema Board, Punjab before publishing it. The Punjab Curriculum and Textbook Board will be obligated to take the approval from the Ulema board.
The amendment also offers teeth to the board of religious scholars to recommend bans on books that do not conform to their religious worldview. The bill mentioned that it would be advisable to get advance approvals from the Ulema Board instead of getting recommendations later.
Congratulating the house on the passage of the bill, Speaker Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi extolled the enacted law claiming it protected Khatm-i-Nabuwwat while closing the doors of evil being spread in the books regarding Islam. “We wanted to protect the coming generations. This country came into existence in the name of Islam and we cannot compromise on controversial content,” he said.
Earlier, as the day’s assembly proceedings started, the speaker expressed displeasure over Senior Food Minister Aleem Khan’s absence from the session. He said he could not do anything if the minister was in Islamabad but he should have been in the House.
Pakistani Minister for Education, Murad Raas said in the house that the matter of forbidden books had come up with the board twice earlier and cases were book against those responsible for publishing blasphemous material. He further added that 30 committees in his department were working to examine all the textbooks.
Raas also said that even Pakistani citizens can file their grievances against the objectionable content published in the textbooks by lodging their complaints through Whatsapp, website and landline numbers. He added that his department did not encompass reference books, which was under the scope of the law and home departments.