By Aliya Harir
It has been reported that a group of 50 people hailing from political party Shiv Sena barged into the press conference of Pakistani Sufi band Mekaal Hasan held in the Mumbai Press Club today and demanded that the musicians return immediately to their country. They were carrying placards with anti-Pakistani slogans and saffron flags.
The Sufi rock band was scheduled to announce the first ever Indo-Pak band with members from both Pakistan and India. This initiative that would have been first of its kind was aimed to create positive interaction between the musicians of both India and Pakistan. We have seen storming of high commissions, then the stopping the Indo-Pak friendship bus, the LOC tensions and now when efforts for recreating the lost bond of music are made, such mindsets are again halting our ways. We condemn this action by Shiv Sena. Shiv Sena and other Hindu fascist groups have in the past taken similar steps to disrupt peace initiative between India and Pakistan.
We want peace, not war. Culture bonds the people of both the countries. The people of India and Pakistan share common language, religion, culture and values. It is a widely-known fact that it is quite common for Indians and Pakistanis to bond in foreign countries. It is also a fact that despite fluctuating political relations and military clashes, indo-pak cultural ventures have always seen great enthusiasm from the people of both sides of the border. Promoting these cultural ventures can definitely be a way to bring people of both sides together and wipe out mutual suspicion and hatred. It is for the shared history of India and Pakistan that from generations the melodies sung in the subcontinent have touched and romanticized the hearts of millions both sides of the border. Classical music of the two countries has similar origins. Songs by Kanan Bala, Devika Rani, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Reshma, Pankaj Malik and many others have kept the generations singing to their tunes.
The young generation is hopeful that contemporary music exchanges will strengthen cross border relations. This is when our governments are trying to control cross border terrorism, we must give in our endeavor to enhance cross border concerts. We think that there is a need to increase these cultural ventures and efforts for people-to-people communications as it will lessen miscommunications and change mindsets on both sides. They can play a big role in harnessing good relations between India and Pakistan.
We thus consider these actions as actions against peace and prosperity. Also, who is Shiv Sena to protest against Pakistani band when the people of India welcomes and loves Pakistani bands and artists? We do not think that Shiv Sena represents the voice of Indians. People in India, like in Pakistan, desire for peace, not war.
Aaghaz-e-Dosti is an initiative for Indo-Pak peace and friendship. It is an initiative of India-based Mission Bhartiyam and Pakistan-based The Catalyst – TC.
Aliya Harir is Convener of Aaghaz-e-Dosti Pakistan