‘Politics hasn’t ruined India-Pakistan bond’

Singer Shafqat Amanat Ali on art bridging gaps between the two nations

Ians April 02, 2016
Shafqat said he has always been treated with respect in Bollywood. PHOTO: FILE

NEW DELHI: While some believe the political rift between India and Pakistan has had a negative impact on the work of artists, there are those who beg to differ. One such example is that of renowned Pakistani singer Shafqat Amanat Ali who feels the cultural bond between the two countries is unaffected by political intervention on both sides.

Shafqat feels music helped bridge the gap between the two countries, even when artists from Pakistan were barred from performing in India. “Politics hasn’t really been able to ruin the musical bond between both countries. This bond has always been there. In fact, it has strengthened over the years,” Shafqat said during his recent visit to India. Citing the cancellation of the Ghulam Ali concert earlier this year, he added, “I believe that had this musical bond not been there, the situation would have been worse. But, yes, there are times when a lot of things get cancelled due to tension between the nations.”

However, according to Shafqat, what was impressive was the positive outlook following the cancellation of Ghulam’s performance. “Such political moves do affect this bond. But what’s good is that neither Ghulam Ali said he will not perform in India, nor did his Indian fans say that they don’t want him here.” In that sense, he believes music has been a constant mediator.

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Nevertheless, Shafqat believes that when governments from the two sides begin bilateral talks and negotiate on issues, they should be brought to a logical end. “It takes just one person to come and create controversies. And after that, everything gets ruined. We should understand that whatever we are starting, we should take it to the end and ignore people who try to ruin our relations,” Shafqat stated.

The singer, who has sung multiple Bollywood numbers such as Mitwa, Bin Tere and Yeh Hausla, shared he has always been treated with respect in the Indian industry. “Bollywood is always open for Pakistani artists. It is growing every day. Also, a lot of people from India such as Daler Mehndi, Mika Singh and Kailash Kher have performed in Pakistan. People’s choice of music is the same on both sides.”

Shafqat further mentioned that the love and attention he has received from Indian music aficionados following his performances across the border have been an impeccable experience.

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He is of the view that musicians in both countries are not influenced by western trends. “Different trends have come and gone but only the songs that are melodious and meaningful become popular and stay with you. There are a lot of melodious tracks that we get to hear even today in India,” he concluded. 

Published in The Express Tribune, April 3rd, 2016.

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