Pakistan’s literary and arts community expressed discontent over Indian artists Shabana Azmi and Javed Akhtar decision to cancel their visit to Pakistan. The artists were invited to attend Kaifi Azmi’s birth centenary celebrations.
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Omair Alavi, a well-known film critic, said: “Shabana and Javed Sahab have always been seen as progressive people who have spoken out in favour of bettering Indo-Pak relations. So their reaction to the Pulwama incident has come as a surprise to the arts and literary community in Karachi.”
The Arts Council of Pakistan expressed concern over the two artists’ decision. Arts Council president Ahmed Shah also expressed regrets over Akhtar’s comments saying, “His comments do not seem appropriate for a literary person.”
The deadliest terror attack in Jammu and Kashmir where a Jaish suicide bomber rammed an explosives-laden vehicle into a CRPF bus in Pulwama district, killing at least 40 personnel and leaving many critically wounded.
The two artists were invited to Pakistan by the Karachi Arts Council. After the attack, Azmi said she feels weakened in her belief that people-to-people contact can force the establishment to do the right thing.“I don’t criticise her but we deeply feel saddened the way she had expressed disappointment after the Pulwama attack,” the Arts Council president said.
On Feb 23 and 24, the Arts Council is organising a conference to mark the 100th birth anniversary of poet Kaifi Azmi. The famous poets and literary personalities from Pakistan and other parts of the world have been invited to be part of the two-day event. Shabana Azmi and Javed Akhtar had earlier this month confirmed their visit to Karachi.
The veteran actor, Shakeel also expressed sadness saying, “The sadder part is that after always having spoken up against extremism and in favour of people-to-people contact, they have now given up hope”.
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