Singer Ali Zafar says he wasn’t present at Faiz Mela, didn’t know about Javed Akhtar’s ‘insensitive remarks’
Indian lyricist Javed Akhtar came to Pakistan last week and left a storm in his wake. He issued anti-Pakistan remarks at the Faiz Festival and was later seen as chief guest at Ali Zafar’s gathering hosted for him. After a video of him surfaced from the festival, social media launched into debate about whether it was appropriate for him to said what he said, including many celebrities such as Saboor Aly, Zara Tareen and Resham speaking up. Zafar shared a statement clarifying that he wasn’t aware of Akhtar’s comments before.
On Thursday, he addressed the matter on Instagram. “I love you all and truly value your praise and criticism equally. But I always request one thing — verify facts before reaching any conclusion or judgment,” he wrote. “I was not present at the Faiz Mela nor aware of what was said until the next day when I saw it on social media.”
Calling himself “a proud Pakistani,” he said, “Naturally, no Pakistani would appreciate any statement against [their] country or people specially at an event meant to bring hearts closer than further. We all know how much Pakistan has suffered and continues to suffer at the hands of terrorism and such insensitive and uncalled for remarks can deeply hurt the sentiments of so many people.”
Zafar re-posted a fan’s Instagram story that defended his stance and emphasised on judging after looking at both sides of the story. They pointed out that the “terms and phrases “used for him, his family and all the invitees were so “disrespectful” that they can’t even quote them. “We should be careful of the choice of words we make no matter what happens,” they concluded.
The ‘Laila O Laila’ singer added his own comment to the story and wrote, “Not everyone, but some use such occasions to attack and exploit too. [It] was quite amusing when some posing to be heroes and patriots on social media, [were] messaging me behind the scene, complaining [about] why they weren’t invited. Hypocrisy is also at its peak here. Beware.”
In a video that went viral online, Akhtar said that while Indians celebrated late great singers of Pakistan, Pakistan did not reciprocate. “I will not accept formality, we organised huge functions for Nusrat [Fateh Ali Khan] and Mehdi Hassan, there was no function for Lata Mangeshkar in your country.”
He continued, “The truth is that blaming each other is not going to work. We need to reduce tensions in the region. We’re from Mumbai, we saw how our city was attacked. Those people weren’t from Norway, were they? Nor did they come from Egypt. They are still roaming around in your country. If these complaints are in a Hindustani’s heart, you shouldn’t take offence.”