The literary and arts community has expressed disappointment over Shabana Azmi and husband Javed Akhtar cancelling their Karachi visit, in the wake of the Pulwama attack. Shabana Azmi on Friday said she and Javed Akhtar have decided not to attend Kaifi Azmi’s birth centenary celebrations in Karachi. The couple was invited to Pakistan by the Karachi Arts Council for a two-day event. After the attack, Azmi said she feels weakened in her belief that people-to-people contact can force the establishment to do the right thing. The Arts Council president said he felt sorry that Azmi has lost hope. “I don’t criticise her but we deeply feel saddened the way she had expressed disappointment after the Pulwama attack,” he said. “We firmly believe that artistes and people who are regarded for their literary and artistic contribution are the ones who give hope to people. They never disappoint them. But this time, Shabana Azmi sounds extremely disappointed.” The Arts Council is organising a conference on February 23 and 24 to mark the 100th birth anniversary of poet Kaifi Azmi Veteran actor Shakeel also expressed sadness that the husband and wife were not coming. “The sadder part is that after always having spoken up against extremism and in favour of people-to-people contact, they have now given up hope,” he said. Published in Daily Times, February 19th 2019.