Is terrorism bad? A resounding ‘yes’ from across India!
Are steps needed to be taken to curb it? Yes!
The terrorist attack in Uri by terrorists from Pakistan was abhorrent? Yes, again!
We should ban Pakistani artists. An upcoming Bollywood movie stars a Pakistani actor. It should be banned too. Correct?
Here, the nation is divided. Some say we should not let any Pakistani artist make money out of India. Some say all Pakistanis are as guilty as the terrorists themselves. On the other hand, some say the Pakistani actors are artists, not terrorists. Some say the common man from Pakistan is innocent and should not be made to suffer.
So, whose side are you on? Everybody has an opinion on this as it touches the core of our nation. We may disagree, but we cannot ‘not’ have an opinion on this issue. Here are my two cents’ worth.
At the outset, I must clearly state my position – I am in favour of banning the Pakistani artists. All those in agreement, please hold your horses because you may not agree with this – I am not in favour of banning Ae Dil Hai Mushkil just because it stars a Pakistani actor. Confused? Sounds contradictory? Let me explain.
Any decision that is taken should not be put into effect retrospectively. This may hold as true in economics as proved by the Vodafone retrospective taxation fiasco, as in politics. When Karan Johar made the movie, times were different. Actually, the times were not as different because there had been terrorist attacks even before the Uri attacks. What was different was the public mood. Our anger is not wrong. It is justified to a tee. However, you cannot blame a person to have done something that was considered okay when he did it. His movie is just releasing now, the filming was done in the past. If Karan Johar was making a movie with a Pakistani actor now after the public hue and cry, the ban would have been justified.
Bollywood is being targeted because they garner attention, and they are a soft target. If it was not okay to cast Pakistani actors, the government should have laid down a policy saying so. How did the Pakistani actor come to India to be cast by Karan Johar? If the government had given him a visa to enter our country, then it is not the responsibility of Karan Johar to ascertain if he was fit to be cast. If anyone is to be blamed, it is the government.
Let us give Karan Johar his due. He has put his heart and soul in one of his projects. All he is trying to do is showcase it. How does terrorism fit into it? The man is promising that he would not cast any Pakistani actor in future and that he is sorry if he hurt the sentiments of his countrymen. In fact, he has even been agreed to (forcefully though) donating five crores to the Indian Army as a so-called punishment. In spite of this humility, people are targeting him. This is just because he is a soft target.
My stand in favour of Karan Johar should in no way be construed to mean that I am not in favour of banning Pakistani artists coming to India. I am very much. However, let’s let bygones be bygones. The movie has been made. Let it be.
For a moment, let us think that the movie doesn’t get released. Will that stop terrorism? Will it send any warning message to Pakistan, leave alone to the terrorists? It is a very juvenile reaction.
What we should focus our attention on is how to curb terrorism. It is no secret that Pakistan is sheltering some terrorists. In spite of repeated requests, the country is not taking any action. Yes, the time has come for us to stop talking with them and take strict actions. Yes, severing all ties with them is a step in that direction. But why stop only the exchange of artists? Stop trade between the two countries. Take away the ‘Most Favoured Nation’ status from Pakistan. Some big business houses are making money out of it. Stop them. Stop the trains and buses between the two countries. Stop issuing visas to Pakistanis. Stop allowing Indians to go to Pakistan. Stop the prime minister from visiting Pakistan. Stop Pakistani sites from the Internet. Basically, stop any relationship with Pakistan till it stops its terrorists.
Come to think of it, why is Pakistan angry about India’s surgical strikes? The attack was on the terrorists operating out of Pakistan. If Pakistan claims that none of its people are terrorists, then why should it bother them? In fact, they should be thankful that India is helping them clean their backyard. Moreover, Pakistan did not react this way when the US entered its home and killed one of the most wanted terrorists – Osama bin Laden. Why this reaction now?
Now, coming to the other side of the debate. There are many people, especially in Bollywood, who are saying that artists are innocent and they should not be banned. Excuse me! Were not the thousands of people killed in the numerous terrorist attacks in India, innocent? We all are safe here because of the sacrifice of our soldiers. What if today they turn around and say, we are innocent and would not like to die because of no fault of ours? Who will man our borders? Unfortunately, many innocent lives have been lost and are being lost at the hands of a few.
The fault is not of any filmmaker or creative personality, but of our successive governments that have not been able to take a firm stand against terrorism. The fault is ours, of the general public that becomes complacent once the issue dies down and we ease pressure on the government.
Let us all Indians unite together and face terrorism. If it means sacrificing some well-meaning Pakistani brethren, then so be it. However, let’s not waste our time on punishing soft targets while the terrorists are planning their next attack.
(Shobhika Puri is a freelance writer)