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Pakistani artistes in India on peace mission

Last month, bilateral cricket ties between India and Pakistan had resumed after a gap of five years and a new liberal visa agreement was also operationalised.

Kolkata: Amidst the growing tension between India and Pakistan after the brutal killing of two Indian jawans along the LoC in Kashmir, a troupe of artistes from Karachi are on a peace mission in the country to strengthen people-to-people relations.

"The tension is political in nature and the people have nothing to do with it. People from both sides of the border want peace. We want regular cultural exchanges with India and a hassle-free visa process so that we can meet each other," Pakistani theatre director Zain Ahmed told PTI here today.

He rued that whenever political tension builds up between the two countries, cultural relations are made the first hostage.

"Many barriers like delaying visa process are created so that the people of the two countries cannot meet each other," he said.

Ahmed is leading a seven-member team of the National Academy of Performing Arts (NAPA) of Karachi which presented `Manto aur Ghalib : Ek Guftagu` at the Apeejay Kolkata Literary Festival which ended during the day.

The play, which is replete with soulful songs and lively music, is a fictional conversation between Manto and Ghalib.

A team of 25 artistes of NAPA Repertory Theatre is scheduled to present a theatre `Manto Rama` at the National School of Drama in New Delhi on Thursday after the other artistes from that country join.

Pak musician Ahsan Bari said, "I have many friends here
in India and whatever happens politically, our relations never get affected as a result."

He suggested that the youth of the two countries should take the initiative of having more cultural exchanges.

"There is no difference between the people of the two countries. We have a common language, culture, history, food habits and everything else. Whenever we come to India we find acceptance and love from the people here," said Mira Hashmi Pakistani film critic and granddaughter of legendary Pakistani poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz.

"Those who want enmity between the two countries should know that in this age of globalisation and social media, people-to-people relations can never be stopped," said Hashmi, who introduced Manto`s works to a discerning audience at Kolkata`s St John`s Church during the staging of the play.

Pakistani theatre director Sunil Shankar said `Manto Rama` is a biographical sketch of the writer whose birth centenary is being celebrated on both sides of the border.

"We have also incorporated two to three essays and short stories written by Manto in the play which reflect Indian culture," he said adding that it also includes various incidents including the partition of India and Pakistan which had a significant impact on the course of his life.

Last month, bilateral cricket ties between India and Pakistan had resumed after a gap of five years and a new liberal visa agreement was also operationalised.

But relations between the two countries tensed in the last few days after regular ceasefire violation by Pakistani troops and the barbaric killing of two Indian jawans last week.


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