Following up on the ATP blogpost from June 19, 2006 (Mughal-e-Azam: A party fit for an emperor), Reuters and various Indian news outlets are now reporting that veteran Bollywood lyricist Javed Akhtar, who is married to actress Shabana Azmi has been refused a visa for Pakistan and that other Indian filmstars who were coming to Karachi for the opening of Mughal-e-Azam have decided to cancel the trip in protest.
Speaking to the Press Trust of India, Javed Akhtar said:
I don’t understand what kind of a threat I can pose to that country. In fact, we were going for a very noble cause, where a day after the premiere, we were scheduled to participate in a telecom to raise funds for earthquake victims. .. After hearing that I have been denied a visa, the organiser Akbar Asif… called a press conference in Karachi and announced that he was postponing the event until I am granted a visa. I suppose it is now as good as cancelled… I am, in fact, quite amused at it. I feel they have given me too much importance. The only thing that comes to mind is that I have been too frank for their comfort on sensitive issues and in a society where there is no tradition of having opposition, this is bound to happen.
Of course, one has yet to hear the version from the Pakistan side and there may well be a valid explanation for this. But irrespective of what that might be, did this really need to happen? Is the needless controversy this is bound to generate really worth it? is anyone at all thinking about the public diplomacy aspects of this?