Is patriotism the last refuge of a scoundrel or liberalism the compendium of shamelessness?

On September, 18, 2016 heavily armed Jihadis attacked an army base in north Kashmir and killed 17 soldiers, triggering calls for a swift retaliation that could squeeze the space for any détente between India and Pakistan. The Indian Army responded to this Jihadi attack with a massive counter terrorism operation, i.e. surgical strikes in POK, the illegally occupied part of the Indian state of Jammu & Kashmir. What followed the surgical strikes was a two-fold reaction- while patriots expressed their extreme happiness with the government’s bold move to give the Indian Army a political clearance to carry out the surgical strikes, liberals were busy casting doubts on the very surgical strikes carried out by the Indian Army and informed to the world by the DGMO himself, thus casting aspersions on the credibility of the Indian Army itself.

As it happens, when the government does its job, the citizens are always willing to walk an extra mile to achieve the objective of the State. To augment the Indian government’s efforts to diplomatically isolate Pakistan internationally, people decided to boycott the upcoming movie of Karan Johar in which Pakistani actors were cast. Johar did not relent initially, but when he realized that the people’s movement was gaining momentum and more and more people were joining the boycott initiative, he finally relented… He came up with a video and appealed everyone to let his movie release, he even met ministers of the union and state governments as well.

Like every other people’s movement, this movement too was hijacked by political parties. Sensing the public mood against Pakistani artists, MNS chief Raj Thackeray issued threats to Pakistani artists working in Mumbai to leave in 48 hours or be ready to face the consequences thereafter. He even threatened to stop the release of Karan Johar’s movie as it has Pakistani artists in it. Last we heard Maharashtra CM has intervened and peace has been brokered as Raj Thackeray has agreed to let the movie release and Karan Johar has agreed to pay some INR 50 million to the Army Fund as demanded by Thackeray.  However, people who took a principled stand have refused to budge and the boycott movement is only growing stronger with each passing day.

As had been anticipated, this has caused severe heart burn among the liberals. After all, how come the unwashed masses unleash the weapon of boycott against Pakistani ‘artists’ as art knows no boundary!?

The history of boycott to augment a cause one finds just is at least as old as the history of Islam; the first boycott, in the year 617 was targeted at the Banu Hashim tribe, perpetrated by the Quraysh tribe to force the withdrawal of Hashemite protection of Muhammad. In the last century, Germany had faced a boycott for Nazism, South Africa had faced decades of boycott for apartheid, Russia had faced a boycott for Afghan war, and the list goes on…

A boycott is a legitimate form of protest as well as an ethical tactic to persuade the target to relent and tow the participant’s line. If the people of India are boycotting Pakistani ‘artists’, it’s entirely justified as they’re doing their bit to persuade Pakistan to quit warring with India and focus on its own state! Having said that, Karan Johar alone, and not people of India, is responsible for the repercussions of business decisions he took. After all, like all other businesses, film-making is a business and Bollywood is an industry!

Even after the Uri Attack, some people in Bollywood are still eager to ensure that Pakistani ‘artists’ do not face any sort of boycott in Bollywood! Their usual argument is that they’re striving to improve ties between two warring nations by their art… Another matter altogether that it’s been almost 70 years since independence and we’re yet to see any breakthrough that their efforts have produced! It is, therefore, safe to conclude that there’s a problem either with Pakistan or their art… If at all Pakistan has delivered anything to India, besides terrorism, is it the routine insults heaped at the Indian artists. Let me jog the memory of those who are wilfully forgetful to help them reconsider their stand!

Indian movies have been banned in Pakistan since the 1965 war, but our Bollywood people don’t have a problem with the same. Ironically, they dub Pakistan a huge market for their movies, a market which doesn’t let them sell their products!? Less said, better it is vis-à-vis the connection of piracy of Bollywood movies & music with Pakistan!

Talking about the last decade, in 2005 lyricist and writer Javed Akhtar was denied a visa by Pakistan to visit Karachi where he was scheduled to be a part of a star-studded delegation attending the premiere of Mughal E Azam. In 2006 a well-known classical and Sufi singer Shubha Mudgal was to be sent on a cultural exchange visit through the Ministry of External Affairs. “Till the last minute we were neither given a visa nor denied it,” Mudgal said, adding, “I wish both sides would work out the modalities of cultural exchange. It seems only a few symbolic entertainers are let in every time a political photo-op is required but there is no real cultural interaction, which requires a freer visa regime.”

In 2012, Euphoria band of Dr. Palash Sen was denied Pakistan visa for a performance.  The last minute cancellation bothered Sen, and an upset Palash Sen said, “How come their artistes are here all the time? If their ministry is so strict, why is ours so lenient? They simply told the college that there were security concerns, so the NOC wasn’t issued. We were going without any fear whatsoever! The organisers had even made arrangements for my mom. I was very keen that she visits the city where her father did his LLB. The college authorities were parked at the Ministry of Interior for three days, and had even made all the arrangements for us. The sound and lights were all booked. This really is disturbing.” Last but not the least, very recently in 2016, Anupam Kher was denied a visa to attend the Karachi Literature Festival. Reacting to that Kher said, “We welcome Pakistan’s artistes in India. Even if there are objections to their performance at one place in India, they are welcome at other places. But it is not reciprocated [by Pakistan].”

All the examples mentioned above are of prominent Indian artists being denied a visa by the government of Pakistan- all in the name of cultural exchange or cementing the cultural ties! While the Indian government leniently gives visa to Pakistani artists, Pakistani government has never reciprocated the goodwill gesture of the Indian government. Even as our Prime Minister Narendra Modi walked an extra mile in order to thaw the hostilities between the two nations, to begin a dialogue for peace, Pakistan responded to this goodwill gesture with Gurdaspur, Pathankot, and Uri attacks!

To conclude, there’s no use of India or its people walking an extra mile as Pakistan does not want peace with India. If at all it agrees to initiate a dialogue, it is for the sake of buying some time! We have seen this behaviour time and again… While, no one forces liberals to boycott Pakistani artists in a bid to isolate Pakistan on the world stage, liberals calling names to those who are supporting the boycott movement is extremely unfortunate! It not only proves how casual they are about their own country, but also shows that they have no sense of pride and no amount of insults heaped on them by Pakistan would affect them for the reasons best known to them!