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KARACHI: A leading Indian poet who won an Oscar for writing song lyrics for the smash hit movie Slumdog Millionaire has pulled out of Pakistan’s top literary festival at the last minute, organisers said yesterday.
The move follows weeks of tension between the nuclear-armed neighbours sparked by the killings of five soldiers along the de facto border in the disputed region of Kashmir.
Syed Ahmed Shah, one of the organisers of the Karachi Literature Festival, confirmed Gulzar had pulled out — just two days before the start of the event.
“We can’t say about the reasons and circumstances that led to his return home without attending the festival,” Shah said.
Indian officials denied Pakistani media reports that they had advised the poet, who won an Oscar for the lyrics to rags-to-riches hit Slumdog Millionaire-theme Jai Ho, to return to India.
Vishal Bhardwaj, an Indian director travelling with Gulzar, said there was “nothing political” about the withdrawal.