Shabana Azmi refuses to attend father's conference

Bollywood veteran and renowned Urdu poet Kaifi Azmi's daughter, Shabana Azmi, was invited to join a two-day conference in Pakistan this February with her husband, celebrated poet and lyricist, Javed Akhtar.

Through the conference, which was earlier scheduled to take place on February 23 and 24, the Karachi Arts Council intended to pay tribute to the legendary giant Kaifi Azmi. The event was supposed to have Shabana Azmi and Javed Akhtar as the honourable guests and speakers for the event. 

The duo had already confirmed their presence but they have now decided to cancel their trip in the wake of the Pulwama terror attack in Jammu and Kashmir. On Thursday, at least 40 CRPF paramilitary troopers were killed in a suicide bombing attack when an explosive-laden SUV rammed into a CRPF bus, belonging to a 78-vehicle convoy carrying at least 2,500 soldiers. Pakistan-based terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) took responsibility for the act.

"@Javedakhtarjadu and I were invited for a 2 day event celebrating Kaifi's Centenary and were truly looking forward to it. I appreciate that our hosts the Karachi Arts Council mutually agreed to cancel the event at the nth hour in the wake of Pulwama attack," Azmi posted on Twitter.

The event now stands cancelled. Karachi Arts Council tweeted, "Due to unavoidable circumstances, we regret to announce that Kaifi Azmi conference which was planned to be held on 23 & 24 of February is canceled."

Shabana Azmi later tweeted to express her grief.

"I am filled with pain and grief and all else the dastardly #Pulwama attack. For the 1st time in all these years I feel weakened in my belief that people to people contact can force the Establishment to do the right thing. We will need to call halt to cultural exchange," she wrote.

She added, "There is no way we can carry on with cultural exchanges between India and Pakistan even as our martyrs are laying down their lives for us. I stand in solidarity with the grieving families. Javed Akhtar and I have cancelled Karachi Arts Councils celebration of my father Kaifi Azmi's centenary and Rekhta’s 3 day celebration in Dubai which included a show of our play Kaifi aur Main by IPTA. All Indians stand united as one."

"But lets not lose sight of d fact dat there is a difference between d Pakistani Establishment n d people of Pakistan n vice versa. On both sides of d border stand sisters n brothers divided by circumstances with which they had nothing 2 do."

Shabana Azmi and Javed Akhtar attended the Faiz Festival in Lahore earlier in November last year, where they said they were overwhelmed by Pakistan’s people’s warm welcome. “The love and respect we received during the visit will never be forgotten,” they said. 

Shabana, for her part, has been an active supporter of Pak-India cultural exchange, and has previously said, “Film is the medium through which feeling of love can be generated among people of India and Pakistan. More films should be made through which message of love and peace is imparted, and there should be a joint collaboration between the nations.”