Lyricist and poet Javed Akhtar on Sunday said at an event in Pakistan that 26/11 Mumbai terrorist attacks planners are still roaming in Pakistan.
Akhtar, a former Rajya Sabha MP, said that 26/11 Mumbai terrorists did not come from Norway or Egypt but from Pakistan and people of Pakistan should not feel bad if Indians raise a complaints on this. Akhtar made the comments while attending the 7th Faiz Festival in Pakistan's Lahore.
In the video of his comments shared online, Akhtar also says that while India celebrates Urdu icons of Pakistan, Pakistan does not celebrate Indian icons.
Javed Akhtar takes on Pakistan sitting in Pakistan. Reminds them of Mumbai 26/11 attacks which were carried out by terror group of Pakistan. pic.twitter.com/066Un01v66— Aditya Raj Kaul (@AdityaRajKaul) February 21, 2023
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."
On November 26, 2008, terrorists stormed Mumbai and attacked a number of locations. The targets of 10 terrorists included Mumbai's iconic Taj Hotel, Chhatrapati Shivaji railway station, Leopold Café, two hospitals, and Jewish Chabad house at Nariman House. At least 174, including 20 Indian security force personnel and 26 foreign nationals, were killed and over 300 were injured.
India maintains it was a Pakistan-based plan and attackers were Pakistanis. Of the 10, one terrorist named Ajmal Aamir Kasab was caught alive.
Akhtar further said, "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."
India has repeatedly said that the key conspirators and planners of the 26/11 Mumbai attacks continue to remain protected and unpunished in Pakistan.
"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.
(With PTI inputs)