KARACHI: Author of the famed satire novel A Case of Exploding Mangoes Mohammad Hanif on Monday said that the office of his publisher had been raided and all copies of the novel’s Urdu edition confiscated by the people claiming to be from an intelligence agency.

The former fighter pilot-turned-journalist and novelist is best known for his debut novel released in 2008, which chronicles the final days of military dictator Ziaul Haq’s rule and the myriad conspiracies behind the plane crash that killed him in 1988.

In a series of tweets on Monday evening, the author wrote: “This afternoon some people claiming to be from the ISI barged into my Urdu publisher Maktaba Daniyal offices, confiscated all copies of Urdu translation of A Case of Exploding Mangoes. Threatened the manager, wanted information about our whereabouts. Coming back tomorrow... [to get a list of book sellers] 1/3.”

The author also said that he had received a defamation notice for “maligning General Zia”. “Last week we received a defamation notice from General Zia’s son demanding Rs1 billion for maligning General Zia’s good name. Our lawyers are preparing a reply. Is ISI acting on Ejazul Haq’s behalf?” he asked.

Speaking to Dawn, Mr Hanif said the raid had not ended. “They said they will come again tomorrow, seeking a list of all booksellers the Urdu edition was sold to. This is absolutely illegal,” he said, adding that the persons did not reveal their identity nor did they show any official ID.

“The publishers have released all kinds of books. But I can’t remember the last time a book publisher was raided in Pakistan. Nobody needs to malign Gen Zia’s name. Some people pretending to be ISI are trying to malign General Bajwa’s name by harassing patriotic citizens,” he said.

The novel earned glowing reviews and was longlisted for the Booker Prize and shortlisted for the Guardian first book award and Commonwealth literary prize. It won the Shakti Bhatt first book award.

Despite the widespread praise, more than a decade passed before the novel was translated in Urdu. Its translation was released in October 2019.

“A Case of Exploding Mangoes has been in publication for 11 years now. Nobody has ever bothered me. Why now? I am sitting here, wondering when will they come for us. ISI is World’s No 1 spy agency. I am sure they have better things to do. I have my school run tomorrow,” Mr Hanif wrote.

Published in Dawn, January 7th, 2020