PESHAWAR, April 30: After protests on the campus and outside, the University of Peshawar syndicate on Monday set aside the Academic Council’s decision to include a controversial writer’s books in MPhil and PhD courses offered by the English Literature department.
During a meeting, the syndicate decided to drop ‘Shame’ and ‘Midnight Children’ written by Salman Rushdie from the list of suggested books for PhD and MPhil courses of English Literature, according to a spokesman for the university.
“No book of Salman Rushdie is or will be included in MPhil and PhD courses of English Literature at the University of Peshawar,” Akhtar Amin told Dawn.
When contacted, chairman of the department Professor Mojeebur Rehman insisted that the matter was based on a misunderstanding.
“There was a misunderstanding. Neither these books are on our list of suggested reading nor have we a single book of Salman Rushdie in our library,” he said.
Sources in the university said the Academic Council had approved the two books for MPhil and PhD courses of English Literature but the syndicate decided to drop them from the list of suggested books without much discussion.
The inclusion of the two books in MPhil and PhD courses aroused anger on the campus and outside.
Rushdie is a controversial writer for authoring a blasphemous fiction, Satanic Verses.
Sources said the two books were part of a list presented to the Academic Council as suggested reading for MPhil and PhD courses and since the council ‘overloaded with’ the items on agenda, it approved the list without thorough examination.They, however, insisted that there were no ulterior motive behind the approval as some books were suggested for reading for the World English Literature for MPhil and PhD classes.
A source in the department said the World English Literature was a new course introduced to let students know of the contributions of non-English writers since all good books were authored by writers of the previously colonised countries.
He said some writers from India and Pakistan had recently produced better writings and the course intended to enlighten MPhil and PhD students about them.
He said the books suggested for MPhil and PhD reading included Arundhati Roy’s ‘The god of small things’, Kamila Shamsi’s ‘Broken verse’, a political fiction, and Daniyal Moheenuddin’s ‘In other Rooms, Other Wounds’, which is about women in Pakistan.