NEW DELHI: In the wake of mounting criticism for sending authors to Karachi Literature Festival (KLF), the Indian Council for Cultural Relation (ICCR) on Monday contended that it was there to project the country’s soft power across the world, including in Pakistan.
Criticism came from many quarters that reports trickled in that the ICCR has sponsored four authors to attend the event in Karachi even as the bilateral ties between the two neighbours have been at an all time low.
“ICCR is a soft power facilitator in India’s diplomacy all across the world, including Pakistan. We have not sponsored the event but merely paid for the tickets of four of our eminent authors,” ICCR’s Director General Amarendra Khatua told the New Indian Express.
Four Indian authors who attended the KLF included the renowned Urvashi Butalia. Khatua further added that the decision to sponsor the tickets of the authors was taken when the relation between the two countries was good and that the decision was taken on recommendation from the Indian High Commission in Islamabad.
The PTI quoted Congress Spokesperson Manish Tewari slamming the NDA government for its “not coherent and cogent” policy vis-à-vis Pakistan.
ICCR's sponsorship of the authors comes weeks after Pakistan declined an invitation to attend South Asian Speakers' Summit, which is being hosted by India on February 18-19 in Indore. The Summit is being organized by Indian Parliament and Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU).
Speaking at the inauguration of the KLF, Indian Ambassador to Pakistan Gautam Bambawale has asked the host country to abjure violence. “India wishes Pakistan well in its nation building process. India wishes to see a stable, moderate and prosperous Pakistan which is at peace with itself, at peace with its neighbours and at peace with the world,” Bambawale had said. In his statement Bambawale further wished that Pakistan does not distinguish between “good and bad terrorists”.