By: Shubham Ghosh
Renowned Indian poet Javed Akhtar, who recently made headlines by remarking during his visit to Pakistan that the perpetrators of the 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai were roaming free, on Wednesday (22) told India’s NDTV that his remarks were well-received by the audience in the host country.
The 78-year-old was in Pakistan last week to take part in a festival in Lahore in memory of Faiz Ahmed Faiz, a legendary 20th century Urdu poet.
In an exclusive interview, the veteran lyricist told the channel that the audience clapped and agreed with him.
“They all clapped. They agreed with me. There are many people who admire India, want to have a relationship with us,” he told NDTV.
“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.
When Akhtar was asked whether it is the right time for India to engage in talks with Pakistan, he evaded the question saying he did not have the calibre to respond to such a query.
He added that people who are in power have an understanding of the situation and how to go about it. He said that the army, people and establishment in Pakistan were not on the same page.
Is a middle ground needed for the talks to progress? To this, Akhtar said those who run the country know it better.
“My information is little. We in India have very limited information about Pak people. Same is the case with them,” he was quoted as saying.
In a video of his remarks which went viral, Akhtar responded to someone from the audience at the Lahore event who asked whether he would tell the people of India on returning home that the people of Pakistan didn’t bombard him but also welcomed him with garlands.
“We should not blame each other. It will solve nothing,” Akhtar said, adding, “The atmosphere is tense, that should be doused. We are people from Mumbai, we have 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.”
His remarks were well received in India with one even calling it a ‘surgical strike’ in Pakistan.