Lahore: Pakistan continues to suffer at the hands of terrorism and insensitive remarks can deeply hurt sentiments, says singer-actor Ali Zafar, under attack for performing at an event in honour of lyricist Javed Akhtar who hit the headlines with his comments on the 26/11 Mumbai attacks.
Akhtar, who was in Pakistan for a festival in memory of celebrated Urdu poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz last week, said Pakistanis should not feel offended when India talks about the 2008 terror attack. He also attended a gathering where Zafar performed a couple of songs written by him.
“I am a proud Pakistani and naturally no Pakistani would appreciate any statement against its country or people specially at an event meant to bring hearts closer than further,” Zafar said on Thursday evening in an Instagram post without naming Akhtar.
“We all know how much Pakistan has suffered and continues to suffer at the hands of terrorism and such insensitive and uncalled for remarks can deeply hurt the sentiments of so many people,” he added.
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Tackling criticism over his performance, videos of which were circulated widely on social media platforms, Zafar said he was not aware of what Akhtar had said.
“I love you all and truly value your praise and criticism equally. But I always request one thing – verify facts before reaching any conclusion or judgment. I was not present at the Faiz Mela nor aware of what was said until the next day when I saw it on social media,” the 42-year-old singer said.
Akhtar’s remarks at the Faiz festival came in response to a question from a member of the audience.
“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,” the 78-year-old said.
He also told the gathering that Pakistani artistes like Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Mehdi Hasan had been warmly welcomed in India but Pakistan has never held a single show of Lata Mangeshkar.
Zafar was among the prominent Pakistani artistes who crossed over to the Indian film industry, featuring in films such as “Mere Brother Ki Dulhan”, “Chashme Baddoor” and “Dear Zindagi”. Pakistani actors stopped being cast in Indian productions following the 2016 terror attack in Uri that killed 19 Indian Army personnel. On November 26, 2008, 10 Pakistani terrorists belonging to the Hafiz Saeed-led Lashkar-e-Taiba killed 166 people, including 18 security personnel, during a 60-hour siege in Mumbai.
India has been accusing Pakistan of letting the key conspirators and planners of the 26/11 attacks remain protected and unpunished there.