Wednesday, Dec 07, 2022
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Satanic Verses

A poet flees Pakistan for having translated Vajpayee’s poems

Satanic Verses
Satanic Verses
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

Aftab Husain’s big regret is that he was unable to submit his doctoral thesis on Kalimuddin Ahmad, an Urdu critic, before fleeing Pakistan. The blood and sweat of five years may now bear no fruit. But that was a small price to pay when there was a looming threat to his life. Accused by the current military regime of publishing the poems of Indian prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee at the behest of the former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, the 38-year-old poet was left with two choices. "Either I signed a statement saying that under orders I had tried to raise the profile of the Indian PM-which was a lie. Or I could leave the country." He had few destination options-Dubai, Iran or India. But the Islamic styles of Dubai and Iran were anathema to the subcontinental life. Constantly harassed by government agents who ransacked his home, took away books of Hindi poetry, and accused him of being close to Sharif, Husain had to move quickly. He requested a friend to go to the Indian High Commission in Islamabad with two passports-one his own and the other belonging to the friend. Pakistan security agents, who literally camp near the high commission checking passports of people going in and out, were easily duped. And Husain came to India on a legitimate visa. "I am with friends and they help me get around." But even here he goes nowhere alone for fear of being abducted by Pakistani agents. Nor has he approached any Indian government official for help for fear of becoming a tool in the hands of the authorities to be used to raise international opinion against Pakistan. He says, "I have not decided whether to apply for asylum-but my visa is going to run out soon." He sharply criticises the Musharraf regime and the previous military regimes of "numbing" the media. "Just after Musharraf took over I remember that nowhere did the Dawn newspaper in its editorials write about what had just happened." The 38-year-old Urdu poet and lecturer at a college affiliated to the University of Punjab, Pakistan, is uncertain about his future, but certain about one thing-he has no intention of going back to Pakistan during the current regime.

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