Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM) leader and Member National Assembly (MNA) Ali Wazir, along with academics Dr Ammar Ali Jaan and Dr Taimur Rahman as well as former newspaper editor Rashed Rahman were allegedly barred from speaking at the recently concluded Faiz International Festival.
Prominent leftist and academic Dr Taimur Rahman claimed that he along with a number of other speakers were not cleared to participate in the talks for which they had previously been on the schedule card, in an apparent act of censorship.
In a Facebook post, Dr Rahman said that he along with his father and former newspaper editor Rashed Rehman, MNA from Waziristan Ali Wazir and academic Dr Ammar Ali Jaan were barred from speaking.
Sharing a picture of one of the talks where a chair has been left empty to signify the absence of one of the panelists, Dr Rahman compared the censorship to what people had to face back in the days of General Ziaul Haq.
“Back in the Zia period, editors published newspapers with black marks of censor on the print copy. This was their method of complying with state censorship while also protesting against these violations of democratic freedoms,” he wrote.
“In the same way, some chairs were left empty during the Faiz International Festival. These chairs marked the absence of Ali Wazir, Rashed Rahman (my father), Dr Ammar Ali Jan and myself. The four of us were prohibited from speaking at the festival. With great difficulty, I was allowed to perform but not allowed to speak.”
He also made it clear that the Faiz Foundation or the festival organisers had nothing to do with the censorship, especially since they had been the ones to invite him in the first place.
“My father and I thank the Faiz International Festival for the invitation to speak and perform. They are not to blame for what happened. Though I was not cleared to speak, Faiz Foundation pushed back to clear me and Laal [his band] to perform.”
“Hence, Laal performance was more raw and emotional because this was at the back of our minds” he added.