IF any illustration were needed of the extreme pressure that India`s right-wing lobby is exerting on citizens to link patriotism with hawkishly anti-Pakistan sentiments, one has only to turn to the video released earlier this week by Karan Johar. With it, he broke the silence that he had so far maintained over the controversy that erupted over his upcoming film, a big-budget multi-starrer that counts amongst its cast Pakistani actor Fawad Khan. Mr Johar is a giant in a cinema industry that is amongst the world`s largest. That even he has been bullied into stating that in future he will refrain from engaging talent from the neighbouring country speaks volumes for how the citizens` loyalty is being questioned. In the tensions that flared following the attack in Uri in September, cultural ties and representatives on both sides of the border have been prominent casualties. In India, a cacophony of voices has called for the expulsion of Pakistani artists; even the few big names that dared present reasonable views have been hauled over the coals .Unfortunately, in Pakistan, matters have been taken to an equally, if not more, damaging juncture. Cinema owners have decided to halt the screening of Indian films, while on Wednesday, Pemra, the electronic media regulator, imposed a complete ban on Indian content being aired on television and radio (which was otherwise legal as long as the limit of 6pc of airtime was not breached). With this move, the state has now entered a phase where the fallout of soured relations is affecting the softest of targets le cultural ties.
It bears repeating that in precisely such innocuous, mutually beneficial exchanges lies the path to eventual normalisation. That both countries have allowed those who would take the fight further to dominate the narrative is regrettable in the extreme. This pattern must be made to change, for without that, le without better sense prevailing, any softening of stance at the level of the state will be of short duration.
Source: Daily Dawn