With Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf Chief Imran Khan’s voice often echoing the religious right, controversial author Salman Rushdie on Wednesday asked what many liberal Pakistanis have been posing as a question to the PTI chairman.
Rushdie’s book Satanic Verses has been banned in many Muslim countries, including Pakistan, since it was published in 1988. The book is deemed disrespectful towards Muslim beliefs, a claim that Imran endorsed in a recent statement.
“The issue is not what Rushdie wrote (in his novel ‘The Satanic Verses’). The real issue is that nobody has the right to inflict pain on a society,” Imran had said during an interactive session at the Kolkata Book Fair in India on Monday.
Rushdie, who was recently disallowed to participate in the Jaipur Literature Festival even through videoconferencing, seemingly took offence to Imran describing his work as “painful”.
A Pakistani tweeter, Ammar_Haider responded to Rushdie’s tweet saying “You were sane then (sic)” to which Rushdie quipped: “On the contrary, my ideas were exactly as crazy then as they are now. (sic).”
Reacting to Rushdie’s statement, Dr Arif Alvi, PTI secretary general, put up a message on his Facebook page clarifying Imran’s position: “Rushdie should known that in 1982 he was just another author and had not published his blasphemic Satanic Verses which he did in 1988. Since then Salman Rushdie is a pariah (to say the least) in the Muslim world.”