Writer-lyricist Javed Akhtar recently visited Lahore to attend the 7th Faiz Festival in memory of poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz. In a video from the festival, Akhtar took potshots at Pakistan when asked to take back his messages of peace, and tell Indians that Pakistanis welcomed him with love. He said that as someone who witnessed firsthand the horror of the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai, it would be wrong to expect Indians to ignore the fact that the perpetrators of those attacks are still living freely in Pakistan. “The attackers weren’t from Norway or Egypt. They are still present in your country, so you should not be offended if an Indian complains about this,” he said. He also pointed out that while India has hosted several Pakistani artists in the past, Pakistan has never hosted Lata Mangeshkar.
Javed Akhtar in Lahore, complaining in front of a crowd who still kept on cheering for him despite such allegations. This could only happen in Pakistan where people's hearts are as big as anything.
Imagine a Pakistani in India and doing the same there!pic.twitter.com/imbNrYLX2H
— Farid Khan (@_FaridKhan) February 21, 2023
Shocked Pakistani Fraternity Speaks up
Akhtar’s hypocrisy didn’t go well with a bevy of stars in the entertainment industry of Pakistan. Taking to Instagram, actor Saboor Aly urged all those who showered Akhtar with immense respect and happily cheered for him even though he insulted the country while being on the soil to have some self-respect.
“What a shame! All the educated illiterate – the so-called niche – you never gave the same respect to your own talent?” she asked.
Lollywood star Resham, who attended the after-party with Akhtar, claimed that she was unaware of Akhtar’s controversial remarks, she said, “My country is more dear to me than anything else. I absolutely had no knowledge of what Javed Akhtar sahab said about my country in the Faiz Festival session. I condemn his words. As per our customs of special treatment, we consider guests God’s mercy but Pakistan is more precious to us than our hearts and lives.”
“Who gave him the visa?” questioned actor, writer and director Shaan Shahid
Inko gujrat main musalmanoon kai qatil ka tu pata hai lakin yeh khamosh Hain..or ab Yeh sahab Pakistan main 26/11 kai mulzimoon ko dhoond rahay Hain ..#faizmela isko visa kis nai dia? @OfficialDGISPR @Shahidmasooddr @MirMAKOfficial pic.twitter.com/ekmSblS5wY
— Shaan Shahid (@mshaanshahid) February 21, 2023
Inko bulanay walay or inkay paoon mai baithnay waloon sai sawaal #faizfestival apnay mulk ki izzat sai zayada kuch nahi ♥️🇵🇰 . Pls protect our cultural borders @OfficialDGISPR @MirMAKOfficial @Doppler023 @MoonisElahi6 @2Kazmi pic.twitter.com/UXKn7N33ES
— Shaan Shahid (@mshaanshahid) February 22, 2023
Aijaz Aslam simply said that the fact that Akhtar returned safely to his home country is a testament to how tolerant the country was. “Mr Javed Akhtar, would you mind shedding some light on the Kashmir issue? his tweet read.
Mr javed akhtar would you mind shedding some light on Kashmir issue ? You shouldn’t have come if you have so much hatred for pakistan, we still let u go back safely & thats our answer to your nonsense #javedakhtar #goback #nonsense # pic.twitter.com/b7DCIdnH1o
— aijaz aslam (@aijazz7) February 21, 2023
Singer Haroon Shahid had a bigger issue with Akhtar’s statement
Javed Saab can party all he can in Pakistan for all I care BUT I can't stand him suggesting "India has given Pakistani artists a chance" I hear ill-informed ppl here "Artist to India hee banata hai". While it's partially true BUT it has MORE TO DO WITH THE BUSINESS STRUCTURE….
— Haroon Shahid (@Haroon_5hahid) February 21, 2023
THAN THE ART. Why is say that is because when the indians pick up talent from Pakistan, they don't pick up their music, they pick up the artist and mould his music according to their industry. In my view they pick up a rocker from Pakistan and send back a Bollywoodized
— Haroon Shahid (@Haroon_5hahid) February 21, 2023
Anoushey Ashraf shared her opinion and said that respecting guests is essential but not at the cost of your own self-respect.
Giving respect to a guest is essential. But never at the cost of your own self respect. The way some were hanging off javed akhtar sb’s leg in admiration was a tad bit extra willingness to please. Maybe he’d be weary of his words if we’d shown him the dignity we have? (or lack?)
— Anoushey Ashraf (@Anoushey_a) February 22, 2023
Javed Akhtar Responds To His Controversial Statement
Asked about the comment today in an exclusive interview, the writer and poet told NDTV: “They all clapped. They agreed with me. There are many people who admire India, want to have a relationship with us”.
“We tend to think of countries as monolith. That is not the case. How do we connect with millions of people who want to connect with India,” he added.
Asked if this is then the right time to engage in talks, Mr Akhtar said, “I don’t have that kind of calibre”(to respond to this query)”.
“People who are in power, who are holding that position, understand what is happening, what is the situation how to go about it. Pakistan Army, Pakistani people, and Pakistani establishment are not on the same page,” he added.
It’s shocking to see a writer with so much experience choose a literature festival to share his biased political views. Why did he accept the invitation to visit a terrorist country? The ill-informed Akhtar is ignorant to a large extent. Pakistan has hosted multiple Indian artists like Sonu Nigam (2004), Alka Yagnik and Kumar Sanu (2012) and recently veteran actor Naseeruddin Shah hosted the Karachi Literature Festival (2022). Keeping in view the hypercritic behavior of Javed Akhtar, we can easily say that in future, the guest list of literature festivals would be made more carefully.