The event is being held amid an atmosphere of hostility and cultural embargo in both countries

Several Pakistani authors will be coming to India later this month to participate in the Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF) amid an atmosphere of hostility and cultural embargo, both here and in Pakistan.

This year’s edition of the DSC-JLF will host two of Pakistan’s most celebrated authors, Jamil Ahmad and Mohammed Hanif, both of whom had been a part of JLF-2012.

Mr. Ahmad’s “The Wandering Falcon” and Mr. Hanif’s “Our Lady of Alice Bhatti” are also shortlisted for the 2013 DSC Prize for South Asian literature.

The festival will also host sessions by prominent Pakistani feminist poet and author Fahmida Riaz, Pakistani-Canadian author M.A. Farooqi and British-Pakistani novelist Nadeem Aslam.

Ms. Riaz had spent several years in India during the 1980s. She lived here in exile, along with her husband, during the dictatorship of General Zia-ul-Haq. Her poem “Naya Bharat” (New India) is a searing indictment of the rise of Hindu religious extremism in India. In the poem, comparing extremist elements in India and Pakistan, she addresses Indians and laments, “tum bhi bilkul hum jaise nikle… (You turned out just like us).

Noted journalist Sharmeen Ubaid Chinoy, who won an Academy award for her documentary “Saving Face” last year, and Ameena Saiyid, Managing Director of the Oxford University Press in Pakistan, will be among those participating in the festival.

Following the killing of two Indian soldiers by Pakistani forces at the Line of Control along the Jammu and Kashmir border and mutilation of one of the bodies, anti-Pakistan feelings have swelled across the country. The resulting national outrage in India saw Pakistani players participating in the Hockey India League being sent back last week.

More recently, the National School of Drama struck out plays of two Pakistani theatre groups — Ajoka theatre and NAPA repertory theatre — from its annual theatre fest, the Bharat Rang Mahostav. A few days ago Ajoka theatre’s play “Kaun hai ye Gustakh”, focussing on the life of legendary short story writer Sa’adat Hasan Manto, to be held as part of a ten-day NSD festival in Jaipur, was cancelled at the eleventh hour. The Rajasthan police had promptly escorted the theatre group out of Jaipur following protests by activists of the Bharatiya Janta Yuva Morcha.(BJYM) Eventually, however, the play was staged at the Akshara Theatre in New Delhi on Saturday.

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