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When contacted, the government spokesperson said he was unaware of any such development. The list of speakers had been drawn up by Asia Pacific Institute of Broadcasting Development, he added.
Moneeza Hashmi is an eminent TV and media personality in Pakistan. Her family also runs the Faiz Foundation, named after the celebrated poet. Hashmi was scheduled to speak on the inaugural day, May 10, of the Asia Media Summit. In what is understood to be a last-minute change, Hashmi’s name was missing from the final list of speakers released by the government the evening before the inaugural session. When contacted, the I&B ministry said it was “not aware” of Hashmi’s participation, or of the withdrawal of her name from the event.
Press Information Bureau director general Sitanshu Kar said, “I am not aware of such a thing having happened. India was only hosting the event. The list of speakers was finalised by the Asia Pacific Institute for Broadcasting Development. Only they would know.”
This is the first time India had hosted the summit, which comes under the Unesco umbrella. The AIBD is an intergovernmental organisation servicing countries of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific in the field of electronic media development.
Sources in the government claimed it was not unusual for a speaker to be invited and for the person’s name to be dropped later in case a more fitting candidate was identified.
Hashmi, however, was only informed about the change after her arrival in Delhi. While Hashmi could not be contacted for comment, a note she wrote to a friend was released on social media on Sunday. It said, “Thank you for your and other friends support. I leave it to your judgment to deal with this matter. We the Faiz family and Faiz Foundation will continue to work for peace between our two countries.” TOI also wrote to AIBD director Chang Jin seeking his comments but we are yet to get a response.