With political instability and extremism rising in Pakistan, noted Pakistani writer Musharraf Ali Farooqi feels artists and writers in his country live in anxiety and sometimes find it difficult to pen their thoughts.
"It is difficult, it is not so easy. In such a volatile atmosphere sometimes it is difficult to pen our thoughts. There is some kind of anxiety," Farooqi, who is participating in the Kolkata Book Fair, said.
Ever since its creation in 1947, Pakistan has been plagued by a bitter power struggle between political parties and the all-powerful military and terrorism has joined it for the last decade to further vitiate the atmosphere.
Despite this 'disturbing' situation, Farooqi hoped, the atmosphere would improve soon.
"It is disturbing. It is not only the writers whose lives are disturbed, but those of the common people as they are more exposed to such things," he said.
"People ought to do their business and work. But we are hopeful that in days to come the situation will become normal and everything will stabilize."
Asked if there is any pressure from any quarter to prevent writers from doing their work, Farooqi said, "No there is no such pressure. Everybody is free to write."
The 45-year-old author, who has published several books in Pakistan, however, feels that the Western media has demonised his country by sensationalising incidents of terrorism that take place in the country instead of making an effort to understand the reality.
"I think they are not writing except reporting the incidents that are taking place. Unfortunately, I must admit, one of the functions of the media now is to sensationalise things. I don't see any concentrated effort to understand the ground reality," Farooqi said.
Farooqi is a PEN award-winning translator who has done critically-acclaimed translations of such works as The Adventures of Amir Hamza by Ghalib Lakhnavi and writings of Abdullah Bilgrami and Hoshruba.
When asked about the future of Indo-Pak relations in the backdrop of the recent tension along the border, Farooqi said, "I think that the strategic interests in the region, commercial interests and the stakes involved in the relationship between the two nations will slowly help the 65-year-old animosity to fade out."
Farooqi's book Between Clay and Dust, which deals with effects of the Partition on Pakistani people and their efforts in the making of that country, was shortlisted for the 2012 Man Asian Literary Prize.
Farooqi, however, disagrees with the common perception that exchange of art, literature and culture can bridge the gap between Pakistan and India.
"The writers and artists involve themselves in dialogues, thinking that can help. But actually they don't as the political atmosphere sometimes gets charged up; sometimes it is not charged up. The writers, artists should remain away from it," said Farooqi.