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Vajpayee's poems cost Pak writer dear

Vajpayee's poems cost Pak writer dear

The Times of India
April 4, 2000
Title:  Vajpayee's poems cost Pak writer dear
Publication:  The Times of India
Date:  April 4, 2000

NEW DELHI:  Pakistani writer Aftab Hussain has taken refuge here after fleeing his country, following harassment by the military regime of Gen.  Pervez Musharaff for publishing the translated version of a book written by Prime Minister Vajpayee.  Hussain, who also refused to implicate the ousted premier of his country, Nawaz Sharif, on Monday said he had no option but to leave Pakistan.

His troubles started after an Indian Urdu poet Jameel Akhther, who translated Vajpayee's poems, sent him a copy with the request to publish it in Pakistan.

``Initially no publisher agreed, but as Vajpayee's visit to Lahore in 1999 was imminent, I managed to get the book published as a goodwill gesture and the Pakistani edition was presented to Prime Minister Vajpayee at the Governor's house,'' Hussain told reporters here.

Hussain said he was not aware of what lay in store for him.  After the military take-over, he was continuously harassed by the military regime for publishing the book.

``The military rulers asked me to depose against Nawaz Sharif as an approver and ordered me to record a statement in the court that Sharif had asked me to publish the book,'' he said.

``They threatened me with dire consequences and even ransacked my house on March 4,'' Hussain, who arrived here on March 16 by the Samjhauta Express, said.

``The decision was painful but I was left with no option than to leave the country,'' he said.

Hussain is not sure about the future but says he could either extend his visa or seek political asylum.  ``I will decide about it in the coming days,'' he said.

Hussain, who earlier toured India in 1998 when he was doing a doctorate on renowned Urdu critic Kalim-ud-din Ahmed, said the military dictators were hell-bent on framing all sorts of charges against Sharif.  ``After the coup, security agencies descended on my house, asking me to explain the reason for publishing the book... They asked me to implicate Sharif but my conscience did not allow it,'' he said.

Asked why he chose India even though he could have slipped into Iran or Dubai which were Muslim countries, Hussain said, ``India and Pakistan might be two nations today, but the tradition and culture of the two nations are the same....  In a way India is my second home after my motherland.''

The 38-year-old Pakistani writer, who works as assistant professor of Urdu language and literature at the Lahore-based college of the Punjab University, is sure that his family would be targeted by the Pakistani army.

A writer in Urdu, Punjabi and Hindi languages, Hussain has translated a large number of poems and short stories from Hindi and other Indian languages to Urdu.  (PTI)

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