Mumbai – Moneeza Hashmi, a daughter of renowned poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz and trustee of the Faiz Foundation Trust, was not allowed to attend the 15th Asia Media Summit held in New Delhi on May 10 even though she had been invited to speak at the event.
The organisers of the event, the Asia-Pacific Institute of Broadcasting Development (AIBD), had invited Ms Hashmi to the meeting in her capacity as head of the creative and media wing of KASHF Foundation, Pakistan, and requested her to speak on “Should all good stories be commercially successful”.
“On arrival at the hotel in New Delhi [on May 9] where the summit was to be held I was told that no room was booked in my name as no Pakistani was invited to the event. No one was willing to register me for the summit despite being a guest speaker,” Ms Hashmi said on Sunday.
“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.
Ms Hashmi said she could have registered a protest while she was still in India as several journalists had contacted her in this regard, but she chose not to create hype on the matter.
“I was told that the Indian government had not issued a single visa to any Pakistani for the summit. Because I had an Indian visa for six months, I reached there on May 8. My return flight was booked for May 12 [Delhi-Amritsar-Lahore], so I asked the organisers to at least ensure my hotel booking somewhere else [till the departure date] which they arranged,” she said, dispelling some media reports that she had been deported.
“I was not deported since I have a valid visa. Because my return flight was on May 12, I had to stay there until that date after being denied participation in the summit,” she said and added that she had attended 13 similar events in various countries.
When asked if she had tried to speak to the Indian authorities concerned, Ms Hashmi said she could have taken up the matter with them but chose against doing so. Despite the hostile attitude of the Indian government towards Pakistanis, “we will continue to welcome our Indian friends in events to be organised by the Faiz Foundation. We don’t have to take such hostilities forward”, Ms Hashmi said.
Over 300 representatives and delegates from 41 nations attended the meeting at which an array of issues related to media and broadcasting were discussed.
According to Indian media reports, the director of AIBD, Chang Jin, told Ms Hashmi that they had been informed that she could not attend the event. The reports added that India’s Information and Broadcasting Ministry claimed to have no information about the episode.
The Foreign Office in Islamabad regretted that Ms Hashmi had been barred from attending the conference even though she had been formally invited to it.