Insult to Faiz's daughter reflects badly on 'Atithi Devo Bhava'

Faiz and Atal Bihari Vajpayee

Faiz and Atal Bihari Vajpayee

Moneeza Hashmi, peace activist and daughter of Pakistani poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz, was last week barred from an worldwide media conclave hosted by the information and broadcasting ministry here after being invited.

"I was invited by the Asia-Pacific Institute of Broadcasting Development (ABID) but the Indian authorities stopped me from attending the summit in New Delhi", Moneeza told reporters here today. India's image of being gracious, generous and welcoming to guests should not be tarnished for the sake of harebrained politics.

As per the programme of the event available on its website, Hashmi was one of the speakers on the panel to discuss, "Should all good stories be commercially successful". The reports added that India's Information and Broadcasting Ministry claimed to have no information about the episode.

Just a little prior to this incident, the government had denied visas to a team of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) and also to a senior and well-respected Australian journalist, Phillip Adams, who hosts the radio show Late Night Live and wanted to visit India to do a series of stories.

I stayed in another hotel and left for Lahore on 12 May.

Moneeza Hashmi is an eminent TV and media personality in Pakistan.

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According to the India visa rules, to attend a conference, a Pakistan citizen must apply for visa in advance with a copy of the NADRA (National Database and Registration Authority) card, a letter of invitation from the organisers of the event in India and a letter of introduction from the organisation in which the applicant is working.

Sources said Hashmi had been granted a "six-month, multiple-entry" visa to India in February to attend a conference on Faiz, and did not have permission to attend another conference. Director General, Press Information Bureau Sitanshu Kar told The Hindu that he was not aware of the development. My 72 year old mother, daughter of Faiz, denied permission to participate in conference after being officially invited.

According to Indian media reports, Muneeza Hashmi wrote a short note to a friend stating: "Thank you, for your and other friends support". The Faiz foundation has always worked for peace.

"When I took up the matter with the organisers [AIBD] they expressed their helplessness [because of pressure from the Indian government] and apologised for the inconvenience to me", she said.

Organisers in New Delhi, however, denied the charge and said that they were not even aware of any such incident. "As Faiz would say 'lambi hai gham ki shaam magar shaam hi to hai (the evening of grief is long, but it is only an evening),'" she said.

She is the daughter of Urdu poet Faiz Ahmad Faiz, who is celebrated on both sides of the border for his stirring Urdu poetry.

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