Bilateral

Pak-India culture ties

Jul 20, 2017
In a welcome development, the Lahore High Court has struck down a notification issued by Pemra last year regarding a ban on the broadcasting of Indian dramas on this country’s licensed private television channels. It is definitely a case of better sense having prevailed. On Tuesday, Lahore High Court Chief Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah ruled that the electronic media regulator needed to revisit its policy, given that the world had become a global village, and that the placing of unreasonable restrictions was not reasonable.
The decision deserves appreciation. For one thing, in this age of internet connectivity and digital media, there is no sense in attempting to block certain content when there are so many ways of accessing it. The idea that Pakistanis might be harmed by watching Indian television content — indeed, Pemra’s counsel made the argument that the content of Indian dramas was objectionable and contrary to the ideology of the country — appears besides the point given this larger reality.
 
 Where the greater picture is concerned, however, what must be thought about is the future of Pakistan-India relations. In recent months, cultural ties have increasingly become a casualty in the historically difficult diplomatic relationship between the two countries. Notwithstanding what is happening on the political front, the long-term goal is for Pakistan and India to conclude some framework of mutual cohabitation. However, what we are seeing is the expansion of the theatre of confrontation; in large part, this is the result of moves across the border where resentment against Pakistani artists working in India in the wake of the Uri attack last year has increased. 
Such trajectories stymie possibilities of future thaws. Now that the ban on Indian content on Pakistani channels has been struck down, it would be a welcome move for Indian broadcasters to reciprocate — especially when Pakistani television shows reportedly enjoy the same popularity across the border as Bollywood fare does over here. Trite as it sounds, the future lies in cooperation.
 
Dawn News, July 20, 2017

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