Javed Akhtar's remarks require a bit of introspection.

Recently, Bollywood's screenwriter and lyricist Javed Akhtar made offensive and inaccurate remarks about Pakistan. Akhtar had been invited by the Lahore Literary Festival. While engaging with the audience, Akhtar said, 'We saw how Mumbai was attacked... They [the terrorists] are still roaming freely in your country.'

This not only incorrectly and obnoxiously insinuated that Pakistan was somehow involved in the terrorist attacks in Mumbai, in 2008, but also falsely pointed towards the apparent lack of judicial oversight and law enforcement in Pakistan. To be invited as a guest and make such ill-founded remarks is tasteless, to say the least, but requires a response that forces a bit of introspection from the Indian side.

February 2023 saw 16 years since the Samjhauta Express Bombing. The terrorist attack took place in the Delhi-Lahore train. During the intervening night of 18/19 February 2007, at 23:53 hours, an explosion occurred in two unreserved carriages of Samjhauta Express and killed 68 people. Of them, more than 40 were Pakistani Muslims, clearly indicating that the blast was targeted towards Pakistanis and Muslims.

India's National Investigation Agency (NIA) charged eight people in the terrorist attack, including Swami Aseemanand, a Hindu fanatic cleric, previously associated with the RSS. It took NIA 12 years to conduct the investigation and even after a prolonged wait for justice, the perpetrators of the attack, including the mastermind Aseemanand, were acquitted by the Indian courts in 2019. The acquittal came despite a confession by Aseemanand, who later retracted his confession before the courts.

The Samjhauta terrorist attack was one in a string of terrorist attacks by the RSS and Hindutva terrorists against Muslims. The dealing of India's criminal justice apparatus of these heinous crimes showed that the entire system is profoundly compromised by its prejudice against Muslims.

Akhtar's remarks '... roaming freely in your country' is misplaced and shows a lack of self-reflection. The Samjhauta attack was not the only one that Swami Aseemanand was accused of. The Hindu fanatic was also accused and charged with the 2007 Ajmer Dargah bombing and the 2007 Mecca Masjid bombing. Aseemanand was acquitted of all charges, citing a lack...

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