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Pakistani poet Kishwar Naheed walks out of Urdu festival in New Delhi

Pakistani poet Kishwar Naheed walks out of Urdu festival in New Delhi

The poet asked the organisers to arrange for her return to Pakistan before her due departure.
Updated 21 Feb, 2017

Renowned feminist poet Kishwar Naheed was recently invited to Urdu festival Jashn-e-Rekhta held in New Delhi, India. However, upon finding out that she was only a guest at the event she cut her trip short and returned to Pakistan.

In an interview with The Telegraph, moments before crossing India's side of the Wagah Border to Pakistan, the poet disclosed the reason for leaving the fest abruptly.

"I was told 'We are inviting you' and since there was a mushaira, I assumed they wanted me to come and recite my poems. That's how free flowing such festivals are, or are supposed to be," she said.

Naheed immediately took up the issue with the organisers. "When I asked them why my name was not on the programme, I was told that I had been invited only as a guest. Sanjiv Saraf said, 'You are our valued guest; our aapa (elder sister)'," she said.

The former Director General of the Pakistan National Council of the Arts was due to leave on Wednesday, but left on the second day of the festival.

The three-day festival which celebrates the Urdu language through discussions on the importance it holds and also hosts mushairas, qawwalis failed to see any participation from Pakistani artists this year due to the friction between the two countries.

Rehkta Foundation founder Sanjiv Saraf explained: "We took a considered decision in light of the prevailing atmosphere in the country to not have any Pakistani participation. But, since the purpose of this festival is to promote togetherness and bonding, we thought of inviting a few Pakistanis as guests."

Saraf expanded that Naheed along with the other nine Pakistanis who had been invited to the festival this year had been told beforehand that their invitation extended as guests, not participants.

"This festival is about bringing people together and we did not want that to be taken away by some incident. We did not even apply for the permission that is required from the government whenever a Pakistani is invited as a participant at any event," added the founder.

The guest list also included Pakistani–Canadian writer Musharraf Ali Farooqi and Managing Director of Oxford University Press Ameena Saiyid, but the two chose to miss the festival.

"I was invited to Jashn-e Rekhta but I am at Harvard for my fellowship from January to June and could not attend," Musharraf Ali Farooqi told HuffPo India.

Founder of Muslim Canadian Congress and Canadian writer Tarek Fatah of Pakistan origin was also seen in attendance at the festival. However, his presence spiked anger among some attendees as they chanted slogans and asked him to return to his country.

He was manhandled by the protesters and soon the police was called to intervene.

The foundation maintained that Fatah was not part of the invitees.

Comments

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Igee Feb 21, 2017 01:55pm
Urdu is the national language of Pakistan. It is a mistake on the organizers to invite Pakistani dignitaries as a guest only and not as a participant. The program was made political by the organizers. Participation from Pakistan would definitely add value to the program. There is no doubt about it.
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Masoud Feb 21, 2017 01:56pm
Very biased attitude, Modi is responsible for pushing with his agenda of hate Pakistan.
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Saif Zulfiqar Feb 21, 2017 01:58pm
Government should not allow Pakistanis to go India as long as BJP is in power.
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ali Feb 21, 2017 01:58pm
What a self respect. When Fawad and others will get lesson for this.
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fairy Feb 21, 2017 02:03pm
bad host. our artists are so mistreated there. they should not go there.
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Umer Feb 21, 2017 02:12pm
Its like inviting a foodie to a restaurant and then ask him to watch other people eat.
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Noor Feb 21, 2017 02:15pm
Thank you Ms. Kishwar Naheed.
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Farouq Omaro Feb 21, 2017 02:21pm
Must've been some pressure on the organizers to not allow Pakistanis to perform. Too bad politics ruining the arts.
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Yousuf gul Feb 21, 2017 02:26pm
We support kishwar naheed sahiba my hat is off for you.
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DEV Feb 21, 2017 02:28pm
@Masoud Bhai ji, for everything you cant blame on Namo. Our Nation is not such tinny that our PM involving in anything.
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McChrist Feb 21, 2017 02:30pm
@Saif Zulfiqar BJP vl be in power atleast for more 10 yrs as there is no eligible candidate for PM in India today.
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FAK Rao Feb 21, 2017 02:32pm
If Kishwar Naheed was invited as guest and not a participant then there is no reason of leaving the function before time. If there was any ambiguity that should have been clarified before departure.
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Qamer Feb 21, 2017 02:40pm
Very bad attitude towards Pakistani artists, if Kishwar Naheed knew that she is not a participant, why she traveled to India. That was a waist of time. I was hoping to see something good as a result of both leaders friendship but Mr Modi is narrow minded and do not want any improvements in relation.
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ROCKY Feb 21, 2017 02:41pm
:aashe should've clarified before attending it..
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Asif A. Shah Feb 21, 2017 02:41pm
There cannot be togetherness without mutual participation. Good decision by Kishwar Naheed.
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Rao Sahab,haryana Feb 21, 2017 02:44pm
@Igee Only 8 percent people speak Urdu in Pakistan.
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Observer Feb 21, 2017 02:52pm
There was no need for holding a so called festival when people are being killed and tempers are running high on both sides of the border.
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Jehanzaib ahmed Feb 21, 2017 02:56pm
She was fast in accepting to the invitation.. She should have, beforehand, asked for the minute to minute programme and the list of participants... Nevertheless a message should be learned for henceforth particpations specially taking place in India
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faisal Feb 21, 2017 02:56pm
Thats how you respect guests and female guests ... What a shame..
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Hk Feb 21, 2017 02:59pm
Well done, Ms. Kishwar Naheed, we need to be a proud nation and uphold our national identity and pride.
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swaroop Feb 21, 2017 03:04pm
She came, she enjoyed for 2 days and went a day before to mark a protest. If she knew that she was invited as guest she would have chosen not to come.
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BNJ Feb 21, 2017 03:07pm
@Igee Urdu is very much the national language of Pakistan but pls remember it is an Indian language.
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South Asia Feb 21, 2017 03:14pm
Modi is the PM of the world's 2nd fastest growing economy, do you think he has time for all this? Pressurizing some organizer of some tiny event somewhere in the 7th largest country on earth?
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saqib mughal Feb 21, 2017 03:19pm
Just goes to show how hateful and fractured Indian society had become.
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SMI Feb 21, 2017 03:26pm
Respect for you Appa !You did what other should also do !!
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Paras Kumar Feb 21, 2017 03:32pm
I think nobody should mind this as it was clear in the beginning itself. Organizers opted for this after considering the current situation. Sometimes we have to maintain controlled relationships !!
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ahmedj Feb 21, 2017 03:33pm
Do we need Indian films in Pakistan?
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AhA Feb 21, 2017 03:40pm
I am amused to see comments from my Pakistani friends, this is matter of clarity. Respected Kishwar went to India with her assumptions. Asking question doesn't harm anyone. If I get an invitation from anyone, I will ask questions on my role there prior to going there or accepting the invite.
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SMI Feb 21, 2017 03:44pm
@ahmedj No !
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Fawad ala Feb 21, 2017 03:46pm
Harsh reality for Indians that Urdu is still alive because we Pakistani kept it alive. Majority of Indian Hate word 'Urdu'. What else I would give you as a prove that they sing in Urdu and called it Hindi Song.
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Sohan Feb 21, 2017 03:57pm
India Pakistan - time to take a break from each other, sometime it is better to be away from each other than close to each other...the natural bond will prevail one day if it is worth it.
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Nishat but Feb 21, 2017 04:00pm
@DEV right bro. Agree.
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Rashid Sultan Feb 21, 2017 04:01pm
@Qamer waist is a part of the body above your hip bone and below the rib cage. So Kishwar Naveed did not 'waist' her time. She had a pleasant trip that ended a day early.
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Asif Kashmiri Feb 21, 2017 04:06pm
Great India - typical
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MSR Feb 21, 2017 04:21pm
@ BNJ "Urdu is very much the national language of Pakistan but pls remember it is an Indian language". Where it is on decline sadly. I have many relatives all over india from delhi to bangalore to UP to mumbai and none of their new generation knows how to read and write the language. Thanks to pakistna it is alive otherwise it would have been long dead or atleast on life support
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Mittal Feb 21, 2017 04:25pm
Sorry from India.
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Mustafa Feb 21, 2017 04:31pm
@Igee its an irony that urdu is the national language, while less than 10% people speak urdu
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Indian Man Feb 21, 2017 05:01pm
Good riddance of pretentious poetess with little merit.
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Manish Feb 21, 2017 05:08pm
@saqib mughal :Your people enjoy freeride ,dine ,festival & &&& On the last day she woke ...... No dear it's instructions from GOP to do such.
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whiteflag Feb 21, 2017 05:32pm
courageous decision by organizers to invite pakistani guests, a good gesture .
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Salman Rizvi Feb 21, 2017 05:39pm
@Rao Sahab,haryana Incorrect sir! 8% Pakistanis consider Urdu as their first language. Doesn't mean that only 8% can speak Urdu.
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Manish Feb 21, 2017 05:59pm
Participants r frm abroad. Means it's international event. You claim to participate one of the program.With your logic there is no timetable with the list of poet or Mike is free for anyone without time limit. No management asked prior event about the subject/poetry/presentation to Participants. No Participants submit the presentation to managers. With your logic it's only a campfire which took place all of sudden & indians not allowed you. On the contrary, you have coplit schedule of events participants ,subject with time limit. Even you had got your schedule, arrival to departure. With your event of participate. Now you came enjoy free staying at star hotel. & enjoy festival. At the end act as per instructions of your govt.
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umair Feb 21, 2017 06:35pm
@Rao Sahab,haryana that's akin to an alternative fact
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Dynamite Feb 21, 2017 06:36pm
Moral of the story - Please confirm your role prior to attending, don't assume that you are great
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Jigar Feb 21, 2017 06:38pm
@saqib mughal Just goes to show Pakistanis think they can take over any stage as they please even when they are invited and come as guest only.
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arun jalali Feb 21, 2017 06:42pm
When u had accepted the invitation what did u prove with your after thought action, if it was to defame the hosts who risked themselves by inviting you despite the chill, then I must say u have succeeded,
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Qamer Feb 21, 2017 06:50pm
@Rashid Sultan, waist is a typo but if you think she had a good time in India just wait to see her interviews in a few days, personally I don't think she is very happy.
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BNJ Feb 21, 2017 07:26pm
@MSR I agree with you as the newer generation does not write much of Urdu but they speak. We have more than 24 Universities dedicated to this language. Moreover Urdu always was confined to U.P,M.P,Bihar,Hyderabad and parts of Bengal where people generally speak Hindinized Urdu or Urdunized Hindi now.
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Fazl Rab Feb 21, 2017 07:40pm
@Umer Well said.
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Imtiaz Feb 21, 2017 07:43pm
The only good thing coming out of this story is the manhandling of the scum bag called Tarik Fateh. The so called Canadian of Pakistan origin leaves no opportunity to malign Pakistan and cozy up to the Indians. Good he got a good thrashing by his lovely friends. Thanks a lot.
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Sheen Fsrrukh Feb 21, 2017 08:19pm
Very unfortunate. Was hoping that dust was settling down
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Mann Feb 21, 2017 08:28pm
In this day and age why take the risk of inviting a Pakistani guest? One can use facetime or video conference for people who are not welcome in India.
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waheed Feb 21, 2017 08:31pm
@Rao Sahab,haryana not true maybe native speakers but other urdu speakers are in much larger numbers.
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Rafay AlaM Feb 21, 2017 08:43pm
@Rao Sahab,haryana 8% of Pakistanis are native speakers but every Pakistani learns in school to read, write and speak Urdu. I am from the northwest and Urdu is my national language while Pashto is native. Your claim is not correct my dear.
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Sheen Fsrrukh Feb 21, 2017 08:47pm
@BNJ In India you Urdu, Hindustani
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Harsh truth Feb 21, 2017 10:07pm
Well, good riddance. No one is going to invite you again. Instead of being thankful to the hosts for taking such a big risk and extending respect, this is what we get in return. Stay out of our country!!!
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Ramanan Feb 21, 2017 11:23pm
@Umer good one
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Azhar Feb 22, 2017 12:03am
@Rao Sahab,haryana, unlike Hindi, Urdu is understood by almost 100% of Pakistan from Khyber to Karachi. Please have no mistake here. You can speak URDU in any part of Pakistan and people will understand it.
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Khilari Feb 22, 2017 01:44am
The lady has more guts than anyone from across the border. She maintained her dignity. Salute to her. Indians surely know how to insult. But she gave them a slap on the face.
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Afzaal Feb 22, 2017 02:35am
@AhA Agree but she is a well known and best surviving poet in Pakistan and one would not be surprised if she assumed that invitation to an Urdu festival in fact was aimed at her participation. We still do not know the whole story and about why she stayed for two days when she knew she was not on the programme. Was she told that her name was going to be on a revised programme which did not happen?
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UKumar Feb 22, 2017 03:15am
@Farouq Omaro Agree. Art should not be bound by nation or community. It belongs to every one. Participation from Pakistani artists would have enriched the function.
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Bjk Feb 22, 2017 04:49am
This is terrible. An apology should be publicly extended and she should be invited to an equivalent or better event as a full-fledged participant and as a courtesy, all her expenses should be reimbursed.
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Indian Feb 22, 2017 05:03am
@Asif A. Shah be happy neighbors
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Observer Feb 22, 2017 05:33am
@Jigar i think the poetess made mistake so she should have tolerated it rather than blowing it out of proportion. I think under current tense situation they sould have deferred the event. If were desperate to hold it they shouldn't have invited folks from Pakistan.
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MSR Feb 22, 2017 06:21am
@BNJ My family is from UP and our mothertongue is Urdu. Unfortunately my family members in india who too are from UP cant read and write it. As for understanding , Urdu and hindi are mutually intelligible languages so if u know hindi u can automatically understand Urdu. By ur definition then Hindi is flourishing in pakistan as well as all of us can understand it. I disagree that urdu is getting its due share in India as the language is on decline, those who claim it as their mother tongue ie the muslims of hindi speaing belt and Maharashtra, telengana, AP, karnataka, goa, orissa can no longer read and write it and even their vocabulary includes more hindi words then urdu.
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Abdul Feb 22, 2017 07:17am
If Mrs Kishwar Naheed was invited only as a guest and she went to attend the festival then she should not have objected.
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Pakistani Feb 22, 2017 08:03am
@waheed urdu speakers of India who can hardly read or write it whereas in Pakistan every Pakistani can at least speak and all those who have been to school in every part of country read write and speaks urdu
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Kryptonite Feb 22, 2017 08:11am
I don't believe in insulting my guests.
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GOhaR Feb 22, 2017 08:17am
Urdu is a redundant language to Pakistani and only seeks to keep Pakistan in South Asia and Indianize the people of Pakistan. It is just as foreign as English to pakistani. We should slowly get rid of Urdu and support native languages alongside English which will make Pakistani think more globally instead of watching Indian movies.
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Jalaluddin S. Hussain Feb 22, 2017 08:28am
As a Canadian-Pakistani of Indian origin (I was born in Gaya, Bihar, British India) I hope against hope that both sovereign and proud nations will after all mend their relations and live in a harmonious and an amicable relationships both cultural and trade.
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Abdul rauf Feb 22, 2017 08:32am
Very unlike Indian people. I have been to India and know the warmth a common Indian would extend. I wish, one day, we, the people, become really independent of our governments.
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BNJ Feb 22, 2017 08:38am
@Sheen Fsrrukh I didn't get your point Sir! Can you pls elaborate a bit.
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Abdul rauf Feb 22, 2017 08:38am
Some people here saying that she must had not assumed. This is funny indeed. If you invite a poet to a literary festival, what she is meant to do there? Just come for fun? I think it was correct assumption on her part. It is like we invite Indian cricket team to Pakistan but dont let them play and ask them to watch Ghulam Ali's performance.
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Sharjeel lasharie Feb 22, 2017 08:48am
@ahmedj We do unfortunately need. Our Cinemas were on the verge of shut down when we banned Indian movies. To be honest, we do rely on India for our entertainment needs in terms of cinemas and music. Our artists are always looking towards the huge Indian market for their success. Success in Pakistan alone doesnt bring economic success.
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Karachi Feb 22, 2017 10:16am
@Rafay AlaM What is the percentage of people actually go to school in Pakistan and what is the literacy rate currently...please educate...
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NN Ojha Feb 22, 2017 10:18am
Stupid on the part of the organisers to first invite a poet from Pakistan and then deny participation on the plea that she is just an invitee and not participant. How could they assume that a prominent Urdu poet like Naheed Kishwar would come all the way from Pakistan just to join the clapping crowds at their jashn? They owe an apology to the esteemed guest and to the audience who have been denied an opportunity to hear Naheed in person.
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my name Feb 22, 2017 11:07am
@Rao Sahab,haryana : It's time to give the other 15 native languages a opportunity to grow.
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my name Feb 22, 2017 11:17am
@Fawad ala : Urdu uses Hindi grammar as its structural base. Grab a branch and think you have the very root?
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my name Feb 22, 2017 11:18am
@Azhar : You can understand Bollywood, too! So?
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my name Feb 22, 2017 11:20am
@umair : You should know,Umair!
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Sana Feb 22, 2017 11:49am
So much for secularism...
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Sana Feb 22, 2017 11:50am
@South Asia No, but his stalwarts might have got the program stalled had they invited any Pakistanis. Come out of denial please.
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Ahmer Feb 22, 2017 12:31pm
@AhA First of all it was a mushaira. You invite a shair so what should they expect? Reciting their poems, right? If it wasn't the case the organizer should have been "organized" enough to let her know. @Dev. Modi has had this hate-Pakistan at all cost on common people of India, it is very evident from social media. There used to be few comments of hatred but it seems there is a big flow and there are few sensible comments. @Rao Sab. 8% people speak Urdu as their native language but 90% speak and understand fully as their national and second language. Same like Hindi.
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Dr. Salaria, Aamir Ahmad Feb 22, 2017 12:45pm
Salute and tribute to the legend of Urdu language Kishwar Naheed for calling a spade a spade, right in the heart of the enemy land. Keep it up and hang on tough. May God Almighty bless you. Aameen, Tsum Aameen.
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N Feb 22, 2017 01:07pm
It is absolutely crazy to require government's permission to invite Pakistan artists, actors, poets and writers. However, Kishwar Naheed did not show magnanimity by not participating in whatever capacity she was invited in. She would have felt honored to be in the country where Urdu was born taking the Sanskrit grammar and Persian and Arabic imagery and produced unparalleled not only literature but also culture. It is her loss.
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Objective View Feb 22, 2017 02:06pm
@Paras Kumar You have failed to see the point. It would have been better if they had not invited anyone from Pakistan in the first place if they were not planning to allow them to participate fully.
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Objective View Feb 22, 2017 02:12pm
Languages evolve and change. Most of the world has been compelled to learn English as it dominates in business (and e.g. in Air Traffic Control). This is due to the last imperial power (Britain) and the current imperial power (US) speak this language. In Pakistan we decided to adopt Urdu (in addition to English) as our national language which became the means for common communication between our diverse ethnic populations who speak different native languages like Sindhi, Bolouch, Punjabi, Pushto and various other dialects.
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Harinder Feb 22, 2017 03:37pm
@South Asia Modi is a very petty man. Nothing is unexpected from him
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Bupi Feb 22, 2017 06:30pm
It's worldwide principal that Guest remains Guest and he or she can't be host dear have some comensense. Is there any example world over.
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Bupi Feb 22, 2017 06:38pm
@Qamer Dear she wanted to meet her relatives & friends on organiser's cost. Respect is of literature as well for individuals.
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Satyameva Jayate Feb 23, 2017 03:38am
@Igee - Urdu is the NATIVE language of less than 8% Pakistanis. And about the same number of Pakistanis speak Urdu in their daily lives and at home.
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Satyameva Jayate Feb 23, 2017 03:51am
Mahira Khan's film 'Raees' is not allowed to be shown in Pakistan. So what is the bid deal about this. She should be happy that the organizers invited her as guest and paid for all the expenses.
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point of view Feb 23, 2017 08:09am
@Umer, with you logic. Was every one who attended the event participated in the event ?. This is just a show-up of an arrogance from Pakistani side and politicize the issue.
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bol_ke_lab Feb 24, 2017 11:34am
The poet has shown dignity. Now contrast the poet with the actor.
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Ammar aslam Feb 24, 2017 06:24pm
@Rao Sahab,haryana .Only 8% speak as First language but 100% speaks as second Language,everyone in Pakistan can speak and write in Urdu.It is not the same in India.Substantial work is not done in Urdu in India.
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Waqas Ahmed Feb 25, 2017 03:24pm
Recently, saw a couple of Indian guests in the KLF who also participated in the event. No such fears in Pakistan when we invite our Indian guests despite India's role in terrorism in Pakistan. Once again proves the point that Pakistanis have a bigger hearts and are far more broad minded than our neighbours.
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رانا غضنفر عباس Feb 25, 2017 06:27pm
If someone is invited he/ she should be clearly informed that she/he will not be allowed to participate. Any ambiguity in this regard is condemnable.
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رانا غضنفر عباس Feb 25, 2017 06:34pm
@Satyameva Jayate But most popular news papers, magazines, and journals are published in Urdu. Local language news papers have negligible circulation. Seventy percent writers and poets express themselves in URDU.
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shariq Feb 26, 2017 08:10am
With out background education alone cannot bring any change in one's behavior,attitude,thinking ,modis background does reflects his past.
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shariq Feb 26, 2017 08:15am
@Rao Sahab,haryana no they all understand urdu travell any where in Pakistan I bet u willnot have difficulty to communicate.
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