Pakistani authorities have withdrawn permission for the annual Lahore Literature Festival, citing security threats, but the organisers said on Wednesday the event would go ahead as planned during February 19-21.
The administration of Lahore, the capital of Pakistan’s most populous province of Punjab, had issued a No Objection Certificate for the festival on January 21. A letter subsequently issued by the administration said permission for the event had been cancelled.
“We revoked the No Objection Certificate for LLF on January 30,” government spokesperson Imran Maqbool was quoted as saying by The Express Tribune. He said the event could no longer take place.
“It is intimated that due to heightened security threats the NOC issued by this office vide letter No AO(C)/BA/1044 dated 21.01.2016 is hereby withdrawn forthwith in the larger public interest,” the official letter said. It did not give details of the threats.
Nusrat Jamil, a member of the festival’s advisory committee, told the media that the organisers had not received any order from the authorities. “We received the NOC from the government three months ago,” she said, insisting the festival will begin as scheduled on Friday.
Lahore Literature Festival founder and CEO Razi Ahmed said: “The event will go ahead as planned and has not been cancelled.”
Several Indian personalities were set to participate in the festival, scheduled to be held at the Alhamra Hall. According to the programme, Bollywood star Sharmila Tagore was to feature in the first session of the festival. Filmmakers Pooja Bhatt and Mahesh Bhatt, journalists Karan Thapar and Bachi Karkaria, lawyer AG Noorani and art historian BN Goswamy were also among the Indian participants.