Byline: Aamir Aqil
Some of the much more contemporary world-renowned authors include Noam Chomsky, Amit Chaudhuri, William Dalrymple, etc. A British-Pakistani author and novelist, renowned for her award winning novels, was recently denied a German literary prize over her support for the pro-Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. Over more than 250 literary giants denounced this in the strongest words and defended Kamila Shamsie. But in the country where she was born, few literary figures came forward in support of the author. Neither the Academy of Letters nor the government of Pakistan issued any statement to condemn the unjustified decision of withdrawing the award. Shamsie,
the recipient of prestigious Patras Bukhari award, and Prime Minister Award for Literature along with many other international awards is being treated as an alien in her country of birth. She is very popular among the book lovers in Pakistan, which is evident from the fact that whenever she graces any literary event in the country, she is met with an enthusiastic packed crowd, who eagerly wait to take selfies and get their book signed. It is really a shameful behaviour on the part of our literary circle. Literature has always been beyond political, racial, economic incentives and gives the opportunity to people to express themselves. Freedom of expression should not be shunned because of politics.
I urge the organisers of the upcoming Lahore and Karachi literary festivals to dedicate special sessions to Kamila Shamsie and raise their voice against this unfair attitude of the Nelly Sachs prize committee that, in the words of writers, 'Has chosen to punish an author for her human rights advocacy'. Let us all support Shamsie against the arbitrary decision of the award committee. Literature is all about life and it should always be above politics.