Indo-Pak conference on Faiz put off

A proposed India-Pakistan conference to mark the birth centenary of Faiz Ahmed Faiz has been put off for the second time in two months.

Islamabad: A proposed India-Pakistan conference to mark the birth centenary of renowned Urdu poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz has been put off for the second time in two months after Pakistani authorities withdrew permission for the event, Indian politician Mani Shankar Aiyar said.

Aiyar, who planned to attend the Indo-Pakistan Faiz Centenary conference proposed to be held in Karachi on May 21, has had to put off his visit to Pakistan for the second time.

According to an e-mail sent by Aiyar to friends in Karachi, a city where he was the Indian Consul General during 1978-82, he regretted the authorities` action and described it as short-sighted.

Pakistani authorities withdrew permission granted to the organisers of the conference, Aiyar said.

Rahat Saeed, secretary of the Faiz Centennial Committee that is arranging the `Bazm-e-Afkaar` conference, said his organisation did not get a positive response from authorities when officials went to Islamabad to get clearance for the event.

This is due to security concerns that have arisen following the May 02 killing of Osama bin Laden during a US raid in Abbottabad, Saeed told the media.

In his e-mail, Aiyar said: "The organisers are still hopeful that the required permission will be given sooner or later."

He said that when he last attempted to visit Pakistan, the private plane in which he was travelling was "denied permission to land even as we hovered over Karachi airport".

Aiyar contended that the authorities should have allowed the conference to be held as Pakistan needs to be supported in the wake of the US operation that killed bin Laden.

"I am deeply convinced that at this juncture, when the people of Pakistan are suffering both the shock and the humiliation of discovering that Osama bin Laden had been hiding amidst them for several years and the violation of their sovereignty which they suffered when the Americans undertook their clandestine assault in Abbottabad, that this was the moment at which to express sympathy and even empathy but not to resort to tub-thumping or glee or, worst of all, plots to imitate what the US had done," he said.

Aiyar said he was convinced Pakistan will ride out this crisis as it has several others.

"The most sensible thing we could do would be to persist with the (India-Pakistan) dialogue that has been resumed to explore avenues of living with Pakistan in peace and in amity.”

"So long as there are divisions between us, there will always be others around to exploit these differences and keep us pitted one against the other," he said.