At the recently concluded Faiz Festival in Lahore, Pakistan, veteran screenwriter-lyricist Javed Akhtar mentioned that it is wrong for Pakistanis to expect Indians to ignore that the perpetrators of the attacks are still roaming freely in Pakistan. The crowd at that time applauded his comments but a certain section of the society, specially Pakistani celebrities, criticised him for what he said on their soil.
Now he has finally opened up on the remarks he made about the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks, adding that he was ’embarrassed’ by the response that his statement has received. “Aisa maine kya teer maar diya that people are reacting so much,” he wondered.
Speaking at the ABP Ideas of India 2023 Summit, he said, “It became too big! It is embarrassing for me, and now I think I should not gloat over it. When I came here, I felt like I won a third World War. There were so many reactions from people as well as the media that I just stopped taking calls. I was embarrassed that aisa maine kya teer maar diya. I had to say these things. Should we keep quiet?”
He continued, “I got to know that people are abusing me there. They are asking, ‘Why was he given a visa?’ Is tarah ki baatein, jo thodisi sensitive aur controversial ho… jis mulk mein paida hue, jisme rehte hain aur jisme marenge waha karte rehte hai toh do din wahaa gaye the, wahaan kya darna? Jab yaha nahi darte toh wahaan kya darenge? (I have been saying things that are slightly controversial and sensitive in nature in the country where I was born, I live and where I will die [India], then what was to fear there? When I don’t feel scared here, then why would I fear anything there)?”
He was then asked how he got the courage to make these remarks in Pakistan. To which, he responded, “I’m sure the youth of Pakistan will embrace you with open arms. I’ll tell you one thing — No country is a monolith. What happens is that we start believing that the policies of their government and establishment is what the country is about. But that’s not true.”
He added that every Pakistani citizen is curious about India, and signed off by saying, “The fact is that it is very unfortunate that we are unaware that there is a huge segment in Pakistan that wants to have a good relation with India and that is totally understandable, not because they are saints, but because they are seeing a country next door jahaan itna development hai, itni industries hai, jahaan par corportate world itna develop kar gaya, jahaan culture itna hai, jahaan music aur films itni peak pe hai. So, an average citizen of that country would obviously be curious and would want to come here and see and if given an opportunity of a job or a presentation, he’ll run to do it and it totally understandable.”