Indian minister invites Pakistani artists despite ban


Indian Chief Minister of Punjab Captain Amarinder Singh said on Wednesday that he was never in favour of the ban on Pakistani artists visiting India, Hindustan Times reported.

The minister said that despite the ban, he would be happy to invite Pakistani artists to Indian Punjab and expressed his wish to visit Pakistan again.

“It is time to mend fences and make friends with Pakistan,” Singh said.

Tensions between Pakistan and India have been high since July 2016 when Indian security forces started a crackdown against Kashmiris in the disputed valley.

Relations worsened later in September after 18 Indian soldiers were killed in a raid on an Indian army base, an attack New Delhi blames on Pakistan.

The Indian Motion Picture Producers’ Association (IMPPA), a small filmmakers’ body, banned their members from hiring Pakistani actors, singers and technicians on September 29, 2016. Leader of the regional right-wing party, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, on September 23, 2016, gave Pakistani actors a 48-hour ultimatum deadline to leave India or face being “pushed out”.

Some Indian actors, including Salman Khan, came to the defence of their Pakistani counterparts. He said, “They are artists. We have killed the terrorists. Artists are not terrorists. These are two different subjects. They come to our country after acquiring visa, and it’s our government who allows them with the work permit in our country.”

Pakistani cinemas had also stopped screening Indian films in “solidarity” with the country’s armed forces, but Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in January 2017, gave a thumbs up to the information, broadcasting and heritage ministry to lift the ban.