In a neighbourly relationship that is the very definition of dysfunction, the Pakistan-India spat of 2016 continues even as there are signs that both sides are growing tired of this latest round of machismo. Misplaced patriotism which has been fed on both sides through years of selective news coverage and biased representations of history have led generations of Pakistanis and Indians to grow up hating their neighbours even while consuming the arts and entertainment that crosses over from the border. Pakistani actors and singers have found stardom in India while Indian films and TV shows have huge audiences in Pakistan. No amount of historical differences, conflicts on the LOC and fiery speeches by incensed politicians have been able to convince the people on either side that they should stop watching content produced in the other country. Even as we continue to support our government and military through social media vitriol, Indian songs have been blaring as per usual during the current wedding season.
Small wonder then that Pakistani cinemas have decided to lift the self imposed suspension on screening Indian films. The suspension came into effect in October when the Indian Motion Pictures and Producers Association banned Pakistani artists and technicians from working in India. In retaliation, Pakistan Exhibitors and Distributors Association decided to suspend screenings of Indian films until the ban on Pakistani artists and technicians was lifted. There were plans to lift the suspension which were delayed following the Quetta Police Training College incident. However, after weeks of no further change in both countries stance on the ongoing issue, Pakistani cinemas have decided to re-initiate screenings of Indian films. Given their popularity, these films are highly lucrative to cinemas and suspending their screenings was causing heavy losses. Bans and suspensions in arts and entertainment are peripheral issues when it comes to the Pak-India relationship. It is therefore a welcome decision by Pakistani cinemas to show the people what they want and not give up on their much needed profits that benefit our economy.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 20th, 2016.