Acclaimed writer, lyricist and poet Javed Akhtar’s candid comments in Pakistan about how 26/11 terrorists are still “roaming free” in their country and the bitterness because of that in the hearts of Indians, have gone viral on social media.
The celebrated poet’s forthright views were made while he was on a visit to Pakistan last week to attend a festival in Lahore in memory of the legendary Urdu poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz. And, praise came from unexpected quarters for the famed lyricist poet.
At the festival, he was asked by a member of the audience, “You have visited Pakistan so many times. When you go back do you tell your people that these are good people, they aren’t just bombing us but also greeting us with garlands and love?”
The outspoken Akhtar did some plain speaking while replying to that question. Stating that both countries should not blame each other and that would not solve nothing, he essentially advocated an approach that would diffuse tensions.
The atmosphere is tense, that should be doused, he emphasised. However, he added that he was from Mumbai and had seen the attack on “our city”. “They (attackers) did not come from Norway or Egypt. They are still roaming free in your country. So, if there is anger in the Hindustani’s heart, you can’t complain,” he said.
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Moreover, he hit out at Pakistan for not giving a warm welcome to Indian artistes like the way India has hosted Pakistani legends in the past.
According to media reports, Akhtar said that Mehdi Hassan was a cult figure in India and when he visited India, Shabana (Azmi) hosted the event and it was graced by the likes of Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhonsle.
Further, he said that when Faiz Sahab visited …it was broadcast all over and he was received like an important visitor. And, also gave the example of how Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan was hosted. “Have you ever seen Sahir (Ludhianvi), Kaifi (Azmi) or (Ali) Sardar Jafri’s interviews on PTV? It was shown in India, it happened there… So, the communication blockade is from both sides and perhaps more from your side,” said the poet, even as the audience clapped and cheered him for his remarks.
Back in India, Akhar’s comments went viral and are being extensively shared on social media. Many social media users are praising him for what they call his “surgical strike” in Pakistan.
Actor Kangana Ranaut, who has a defamation suit slapped against her by Akhtar in 2020, has heaped praise on the lyricist/poet.
Jab main Javed saab ki poetry sunti hoon toh lagta tha yeh kaise Maa Swarsati ji ki in pe itni kripa hai, lekin dekho kuch toh sachchai hoti hai insaan mein tabhi toh khudai hoti hai unke saath mein … Jai Hind @Javedakhtarjadu saab… 🇮🇳
Ghar mein ghuss ke maara .. ha ha 🇮🇳🇮🇳 https://t.co/1di4xtt6QF
— Kangana Ranaut (@KanganaTeam) February 21, 2023
Kangana reposted a video of Javed Akhtar’s comments on Twitter on Tuesday (February 21), and wrote in Hindi, “When I listen to Javed Saab’s poetry, I wonder how blessed he is by Goddess Saraswati. But there must be something pure in the person for God to bless them. Jai Hind @Javedakhtarjadu saab. Ghar mein ghuss ke maara (you beat them in their own backyard).”
Javed akhtar doing surgical strike in pakistan 💥💪pic.twitter.com/Iaa4lgcMSP
— Prayag (@theprayagtiwari) February 21, 2023
“Direct and unambiguous, well done”, said one social media user. While another said that “good, he pointed this out sitting in Lahore himself. But Pakistan is beyond redemption”.