TNN Bureau. Updated: 10/24/2016 5:29:35 PM Ideas and Interaction

Indian artists divided over ban on Pakistani Artists

After the Uri attack, various attempts to isolate Pakistan have been made by Indian government but as far as banning of Pakistani artists is concerned, the government has taken its steps back.

The government on Thursday clarified that Pakistani artistes remain free to perform in the Indian entertainment industry as there is no "blanket ban" against them. The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) reiterated that the creative space is open in India for Pakistan nationals even as Pakistan has annonced to ban Indian TV channels and radio stations with effect from October 21.

"As far as the government of India is concerned, there is certainly no blanket ban on the Pakistani artists. Due to the prevailing atmosphere, the security situation and the
sentiment of local organisers, we will do so on a case-by-case basis," said Vikas Swarup, Spokesperson of the MEA. Swarup emphasised that India's policy on allowing Pakistani artistes remains unchanged and described Pakistan's planned ban on Indian TV and radio stations as, "unfortunate."

"We do not have such bans. Pakistani programmes and series can be viewed in several channels. According to me, it reflects lack of self-confidence," he said. The MEA however
maintained that its policy to highlight Pakistan as a supporter of terror-tactics remains on track. On the other hand, The Cinema Owners Exhibitors Association of India (COEAI) recently said that it won't release films starring actors from Pakistan, in Maharashtra, Gujarat, Karnataka and Goa. There are also mixed reactions from various actors, producers, directors and artists from the Bollywood.

So, the tumultuous relation between the two countries has affected the field of art. AMIT GUPTA talks to eminent personalities belonging to cultural and literary world of Jammu to elicit their opinion. Here are the excerpts:

Ramesh Mehta: Writer and Painter

I totally endorse that Pakistani artists should be allowed to work in India. Moreover, this is the job of government to clear it. The central government has not imposed any ban on the artists but Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) has been against them in the past as well. The voices being raised against terrorism are national voices but the voices being raised against artists are not national voices. There are some liberal voices as well that should not be suppressed by radical voices. As far as banning of Indian content on Pakistani T.V. and radio is concerned, it is in retaliation to the comments of Indian producers. We cannot stop people from loving the artists.

Everyone loves to listen to Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Rahat Fateh ali Khan and other singers from Pakistan and out of your radical behavior you cannot stop people from doing so. These artists have made their goodwill in the hearts of Indians through their talent and hard work but they are being isolated in return by political voices. I still remember when Pakistani artist Shaheed Nadeem's play "Bulla" was performed in Abhinav Theatre few years back in Jammu.

It got a huge response and was appreciated as it was well portrayed. They are doing their work honestly, so they should be allowed to do so without any hindrance.

Shivdutt: Filmmaker
I am of the view that art is beyond everything but it is unfortunate that it is being affected by such inhumane acts. If something like banning the artists goes on then it will create differences only. We should not personalize the things also. We are expecting Pakistani artists to condemn the attacks openly but they are also feared of the conditions prevailing back there in Pakistan. Many producers have invested their money, time and hard work in various projects with artists from other nations, so something like this may affect them severely. They had no idea that Uri attack or any such attack would take place. Moreover, it is also a loss of art and culture. Art has always been a bridge between people to connect them but it collapses, then it will only take people away from each other.
Of course, nation is the first priority when something like this happens and it is unfortunate that we need to take strong steps. As an artist I really don't want this to happen but if it has crossed its limits then sadly strong steps should be taken. I believe these things are momentary and would heal with time.

Deepak Kumar: Director and Playwright
It is an exaggerated issue. Government must deal with it not the civil society. In my view, artists are beyond the boundaries of nations but if the government thinks that it is not in favour of the nation then it may ban it. We must think about such issues liberally. If someone likes any artist and appreciated its work then no one can stop him from doing so. People want peace irrespective of the fact that they are artists or not. Actually, art and culture spreads the message of peace. In 2005, I visited Pakistan and the people there loved to listen to Jagjeet Singh's songs and gazals. No one could stop them from doing so. If we are in bad terms with Pakistan in the present times, then other political treaties should be affected rather than art. Artists are becoming victims of politics. As far as condemning the attacks is concerned, then it is their inhumane behavior. We are not responsible for it. They will feel ashamed and regret later but we should be tolerant enough to accept them. If they are dishonest or bad to us then it doesn't mean that we should also do the same.

Prof. Hari Om: Historian

The relations between India and Pakistan have never been normal. Government of India (GOI) must have stopped any kind relations with Pakistan with immediate effect after Uri attacks. Favours like Indus water treaty and most favoured nation should not exist now. GOI's attitude towards Pakistan is disappointing and in contradiction with foreign policy of India. If any country is exporting terrorism on your soil, how can you allow any kind of trade or cultural exchange with such a nation? Though the GOI carried out surgical strikes on Pakistan yet a lot after that was needed to be done as Pakistan violated seize fire many times even after that. The whole nation is against terrorism and Pakistan is its ultimate source, so the government must respect the national sentiments but it seems that it is against the national sentiments. It is only the MNS in Maharashtra that took a stand against it and a result Producers' Guild of India also decided not to work with Pakistani artists in future.
The people who are favouring the Pakistani artists don't understand the threat over India. The self respect of India is hurt. Moreover, Pakistan has also banned Indian content on its T.V. and radio stations. Their behaviour towards India has never changed. State co-ordinal principles should be followed and a strong message must be given to Pakistan.

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