The perpetrators of the 26/11 Mumbai attacks did not come from Norway or Egypt but are still roaming freely in Pakistan and Pakistanis should not feel offended when India talks about the 2008 carnage, lyricist and poet Javed Akhtar has said.
Akhtar made the comments on Sunday while attending the seventh Faiz Festival organised here in memory of celebrated Urdu poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz.
Responding to a member in the audience who told Akhtar to take with him a message of peace and tell Indians that Pakistan is “a positive, friendly and loving country”, the 78-year-old writer said: “We should not blame each other. It will solve nothing. 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 freely in your country. So if there is a grievance in the heart of a Hindustani, you should not feel offended,” Akhtar said at the festival which concluded on Sunday.
On November 26, 2008, 10 Pakistani terrorists belonging to Hafiz Saeed-led Lashkar-e-Taiba arrived via sea and opened fire, killing 166 people, including 18 security personnel, and injuring several others during a 60-hour siege in Mumbai.
The attacks drew widespread global condemnation. Nine Pakistani terrorists were killed by the Indian security forces. Ajmal Kasab was the only terrorist who was captured alive. He was hanged four years later on November 21, 2012.
India has repeatedly said that the key conspirators and planners of the 26/11 attacks continue to remain protected and unpunished.
“The key conspirators and the planners of 26/11 terror attacks continue to remain protected and unpunished,” External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said during the wreath-laying ceremony to pay tributes to the victims of the 26/11 attacks at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel last year.
Akhtar also told the gathering that even though Pakistani artists like Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Mehdi Hasan have been warmly welcomed in India, Pakistan has never held a single show of Lata Mangeshkar.
“We hosted big functions of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Mehdi Hasan. You (Pakistan) never organised a function for Lata Mangeshkar,” the poet said, drawing loud cheers and applause from the audience.
Meanwhile, Bollywood actor Kangana Renaut praised Akhtar for his candid remarks about the 26/11 terror attacks, tweeting: ‘Ghar mein ghuss ke maara’ (He hit them in their own land).