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Punjab books chief decries ‘character assassination’ after Twitter users spot inappropriate activity

Punjab Curriculum and Textbook Board (PCTB) Managing Director Rai Manzoor Hussain Nasir says he has “worked tirelessly as a civil servant for 27 years and remain committed to high moral standards as demonstrated through my track record in government”. Facebook/Rai Manzoor Nasir (@RaiManzoorNasir)/via The News

LAHORE: The chief of Punjab’s books and curriculum regulatory authority said Sunday there was an “obvious attempt at character assassination” after inappropriate online activity on his Twitter account was pointed out by social media users, days after he banned almost a 100 books for being “anti-Islam” and “anti-Pakistan”.

In a statement on Twitter, Punjab Curriculum and Textbook Board (PCTB) Managing Director Rai Manzoor Hussain Nasir said he had fired at least 10 employees he claimed were involved in “corruption” and “security breaches on my personal Twitter account”.

Nasir said he was “accused of liking an immoral picture on Twitter and also of making inappropriate comments on photographs” after he banned at least 100 books on July 23.

“I deny these allegations emphatically and maintain that I have been the victim of a social media hack. I am making every effort to secure my social media accounts going forward,” he added.

He said that the PCTB under him had formed 30 committees to review a wide range of books.

‘Attempt at character assassination’

“The 100 books that have been banned contain blasphemous, objectionable content that is anti-Pakistan,” Nasir said, adding that the publishers of the said books had not obtained the required no objection certificate (NOC).

“Also during the past few days, I have dismissed 10 staff members in my office who had been found guilty of corruption,” he stated, adding that he shared the update as he believed it “to be connected to security breaches on my personal Twitter account”.

Terming the questionable activity on his Twitter account as an “obvious attempt at character assassination”, he said he would continue leading the PCTB responsibly.

‘High moral standards’

“The affected book publishers have the right to rectify the errors in the banned books and resubmit them to the PCTB in order to apply for a NOC if they wish to publish these books in the country.

“I have worked tirelessly as a civil servant for 27 years and remain committed to high moral standards as demonstrated through my track record in government,” he added further.

In another tweet prior to that, he had issued similar comments, claiming he was subjected to a “character assassination” which was done “in response to” his decision to ban the 100 books.

“Respect is given by god and no immoral person can snatch it away,” he had added then.

‘Thousands of textbooks can be banned’

Speaking to Geo.tv earlier, Nasir had said his teams were “currently examining over 10,000 books being taught in private schools” and that “the banned textbooks could be in thousands once we are done.”

The official rationalised his actions with 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, an author is required to seek approval from the Board prior to publishing their book.

It 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.”

‘Can even register a police complaint’

“The law was already there but for the last four years no one was doing anything,” Nasir told Geo.tv. “So when I was appointed to the Board, in February, I decided to take action.”

“Whatever I am doing, I am doing under the law,” Nasir said, adding: “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?”

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

Anti-Pakistan content

According to an earlier report on July 24, the PCTB MD had banned 100 books being taught in private schools for carrying blasphemous and anti-Pakistan content.

While addressing a press conference, Nasir had said the PCTB initiated a critical review of 10,000 books being taught by private schools across the province and at least 100 books by 31 publishers — including Oxford and Cambridge — for blasphemous, immoral, and anti-Pakistan content had been banned in the first phase.

The official had said it was sad that nobody checked these books earlier and or had any idea what children were being taught in private schools against hefty fees.

Pakistan, Nasir had said, was portrayed as an inferior country to India while Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) was also shown as part of India in maps in some of these books. Instead of including sayings of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah and Allama Iqbal, one of the books carried sayings of Mahatma Gandhi and some unknown people, he had added.

Explaining further why the books were banned, he had said mathematical counting concepts were explained using pictures of pigs in one. Another book, by Cambridge, tried to promote crime and violence among the students on the basis of unemployment in the country, he had added.

Nasir had also warned that cases would be registered against publishers for violating the provisions of the Punjab Curriculum and Textbook Board Act, 2015.

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