LAHORE - The Punjab Curriculum and Textbook Board deeming “anti-national” and “blasphemous” content has banned a hundred school books in a single day.

The Managing Director of the Punjab Curriculum and Textbook Board told a private TV channel, “We are currently examining over 10,000 books being taught in private schools, so the banned textbooks could be in thousands once we are done.”

The MD said that he had taken the action under the Punjab Curriculum and Textbook Board Act, 2015, which was passed during the tenure of the previous provincial government.

According to Section 10 of the Act, the author is required to seek approval from the Board prior to publishing his/her book. The Act further gives the Board power to ban a publication which contains “anything repugnant to the injunctions of Islam, or contrary to the integrity, defence or security of Pakistan or any part of Pakistan, public order or morality. Content related to Islam in an Islamiyat, History, Pakistan Studies, Urdu or Literature book will need a go-ahead from the religious Muttahida Ulema Board, as well as the Punjab Curriculum and Textbook Board, before it can be included in a private school’s curriculum.”

“The law was already there but for the last four years no one was doing anything, so when I was appointed to the Board, in February, I decided to take action,” the Managing Director said.

The managing director has set up 30 committees to scrutinise 10,000 textbooks of private schools. He said each committee was headed by a subject matter expert, whose books are being reviewed. Of the books banned till now, one mathematical textbook had an image of a pig another printed an incorrect map of Pakistan.

“Whatever I am doing, I am doing under the law,” the MD said, “If you want to teach a child about numbers use the picture of a goat or a pigeon. Why do you need to show a pig?”

Pakistan’s constitution guarantees an individual the right to a fair trial and due process. Yet, the Managing director admitted that he had not invited a single author or publisher, whose book was outlawed, for a chance to be heard.

“The parameters in the law are very clear about what can and cannot be published,” he said, “So what is there to explain? I can even register a police complaint against a person who does not comply.”

Under the Act, a person can be imprisoned for up to two years, if he or she fails to abide by the prohibition. “What I have done is completely and 100 percent genuine,” Managing Director insisted, “Books don’t ruin us, but bad books do.”