India-Pakistan: Cultural Isolation Is Not Way Forward – OpEd
Indian film actor Salman Khan raised some serious questions about Pakistani actors being targeted post the Uri attacks and surgical strikes in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK). Echoing similar beliefs are several eminent film personalities who strongly believe that Pakistani actors working in India have nothing to do with terrorism or terrorist related violence that killed 18 Indian soldiers in Uri recently.
The international community condemned the cowardly act of terrorism and India urged all SAARC nations to boycott the SAARC summit until Pakistan claims responsibility for the terrorist activities and proxy wars against India. Khan went on to say on camera that it is the Indian government that issues visas and work permits to Pakistani actors such as Fawad Khan and Ali Zafar hence targeting them and threatening them is not the way forward. Diplomatic isolation is purely political but popular sentiments are now calling for complete socio economic cultural and financial isolation of Pakistan, declaring it a terrorist state.
Pakistani artists have the right to work and prosper in India however whatever currency is being paid to them goes to the Pakistani treasury and therefore the Indian establishment should put a stop to it. This raises a serious question mark on the credibility of the Pakistani artists who also have a certain social responsibility they need to cater to by virtue of being a celebrity. Recently Rahul Agrawal, member of the Indian Motion Picture Producers Association (IMPPA) resigned.
Colonel R S N Singh Former RAW Chief, said resignations don’t matter. The need of the hour is to isolate Pakistan socially, politically, culturally and economically. Speaking on the visa permits to Pakistani artists, Rashtriya Swayam Sewak (RSS) activist Ratan Sharda said the situation is that of a real war and asking Pakistani actors, artists to leave India is collateral damage, a common component of every war.
Film maker Shyam Benegal on the other hand asked the people not to brand Pakistani artists as terrorists. They are artists and art has no connection with terror. Amidst all this chaos,, there is one thing which is crystal. The Indian Media has lost its sense of social responsibility and is igniting new anti Pakistan passions in the heart of every peace loving Indian. But for how many more years will this continue. Cultural isolation may be a wise decision for the moment but art and creativity cannot be confined to borders. Singer Adnan Sami’s pro India sentiments are being shown through images repeatedly by the broadcast media to provoke people to urge the Indian establishment to go to war.
A bomb or a grenade does not differentiate between a cricketer, an artist, an actor, a soldier or a civilian. War has never lead to constructive image rebuilding of nations being targeted or victimised or nations that thrive on terror tactics.
Confidence Building Measures, all the diplomatic dialogues, talks, hotline conversations, skype debates on primetime are political in nature and are driven by a strong agenda i.e gaining maximum visibility on international platforms such as the United Nations. How will a Fawad Khan leaving India solve the ‘K’ question in Indo Pak ties? Maharashtra Nav Nirman Sena (MNS) has threatened to disrupt movie screenings of actor Salman Khan for allegedly taking sides of Pakistani Artists. But then has the MNS ever done anything constructive? If Fawad Khan leaves will our soldiers return home?
Where are we heading. In the name of patriotism we are creating possibilities of ‘Poorna Swaraj” once again. No Pakistani man woman or child should live in India. Don’t let them work here. Don’t give them salaries. Instead throw them out because our ancestors decided to leave the K question open ended. Why should Fawad Khan pay the price for being born in Pakistan and having a Pakistani Passport? The answer lies in the question itself. We Indians tend to react more and act less. Extreme reactions from certain sections of pseudo liberal journalists or just pure and simple news readers are not just threatening their viewers with the possibility of a war with our neighbour they have already decided the war game. Just a day ago on national television i saw a young gentleman, or Cardiff educated journalist i should say teaching us the war game, telling us about surgical strikes. Of course this has no connection with him being an army kid. Twitter hash tags run the country. Actors make money. Artists come and entertain the masses and leave. India has to take a firm stand and not be soft on terror. Culture is different from politics and irony is both India and Pakistan have the same cultural roots.
So why target the Pakistani Artists/Actors? This is essentially because India is an intolerant nation. It can react but not act. If it acts the media reacts. If the media reacts the international political order acts. Like Marxist thesis synthesis and anti thesis. No. Please don’t mix terrorism with cultural “ism”. What happened in Uri was unfortunate and Pakistan will have to bear the consequences of the cowardly act of mindless violence but I disagree with a certain Fawad Khan being thrown out of India. Atithi Devo Bhava! Incredible India.
*Vishakha Amitabh Hoskote, M.A, PGD, MPHIL International Relations with specialisation in Politics, Development Communication