Karachi: The Arts Council of Pakistan has criticized veteran Indian actress Shabana Azmi and her lyricist-writer husband Javed Akhtar for axing their visit to Karachi in the wake of the suicide bombing in Jammu and Kashmir that killed 49 troopers.
The couple was set to take part in centenary celebrations of Shabana’s poet-father Kaifi Azmi.
The Dawn newspaper on Sunday quoted Council President Ahmed Shah as saying that Shabana had “crossed the line” the way she attacked Pakistan in a manner not appropriate for a literary person.
“I feel sorry for Shabana Azmi that she has lost hope,” he said. “I don’t criticise her but we deeply feel saddened the way she had expressed disappointment after (the) Pulwama attack.
“We firmly believe that artists and people who are regarded for their literary and art contribution are the ones who give hope to people. They never disappoint them. But this time Shabana Azmi sounds extremely disappointed.”
The Council is organising a conference to mark 100th birth anniversary of Kaifi Azmi on February 23-24. Many celebrated poets and literary personalities from Pakistan and other parts of the world have been invited for the event.
On Friday, a day after the suicide bomber hit a CRPF convoy on a highway in Pulwama, the couple in separate tweets announced their decision to cancel their planned visit.
“For the 1st time in all these years I feel weakened in my belief that people to people contact can force the establishment to do the right thing. We will need to call halt to cultural exchange,” said Shabana in one of her tweets.
Javed Akhtar used harsher language.
“Javed Akhtar should have the courage to denounce his Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi’s atrocities in Kashmir,” Shah said.
He said the Arts Council respected the wish of Shabana and had started a project to launch an album consisting of progressive poetry work of Kaifi Azmi, the daily said.
For that, six of total nine compositions had been prepared by musician Arshad Mehmud, which reflected unbiased and art-loving attitude of the Pakistani people, he added.