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HindustanTimes Sat,20 Dec 2014

Visa policy remains a hindrance,
say Pakistan artists

Mehakdeep Grewal, Hindustan Times   Jalandhar, December 27, 2012
First Published: 12:52 IST(27/12/2012) | Last Updated: 15:53 IST(27/12/2012)

Pakistan theatre and music artists who were in Jalandhar on Wednesday, on their third tour to India to showcase their cultural heritage and spread the message of peace and harmony between both the nations, in an exclusive interview with Hindustan Times shared their grievances over the visa policy.

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The president of Maas Foundation theatre group from Pakistan Aamir Nawaz whose group has performed over more than 200 shows over the span of nine years of its history in Pakistan and around the globe said that it's only between India and Pakistan that artists get city visa's and not the country's visa.

He told HT that the theatre group had made a Punjabi play for the audience of Punjab and wanted to perform in Kapurthala, however, they did not get visa for Kapurthala rather got it for Rohtak and Kurukshetra.

He added," Through the medium of our art we have always tried to tie bonds of friendship between the nations. We have tried to bridge the gap to make more contact with larger audience."

Husain Javed, a sufi singer from Pakistan, also expressed his concern over the visa policy. He said, "I have performed in many European countries and other places where language is a major barrier but seeking a visa there is far easier. Here where the cultures are very similar and the audience can easily relate with my folklore I don't get visa easily and even if I get it, it's of some district and city and not the whole country. Music and art knows no boundaries so why should visa policies restrict artists."

He further said, I wanted to perform Lovely professional university (LPU) in Jalandhar back in November, however, I didn't not get the visa. There is a mass audience here and across too that appreciates folklore artists work."

Muhammad Abid Hussain the general secretary of the theatre group shared, "With the medium of theatre the audience in Pakistan after watching plays of Indian theatre stalwarts like Kewal Dhaliwal have now got niche for quality and contemporary theatre.  The quality and content of theatre on both the sides is improving in leaps and bounds. For Pakistani theatre groups it's easier to perform in India as there is no language barrier, while performing in other neighbouring countries like China or Iran language barrier is a big hurdle."

He added, "The content of theatre across the border is very similar to the one that is here, since the social problems on both sides of Punjab are same. There are lot of myths in India regarding Pakistan. However Pakistan isn't a hostile country the problem lies only in two provinces Balochistan and Pashtun and through the medium of art and culture very soon even the environment in these provinces will be as welcoming as the rest of the country.

With more exchange and more contact with people without political help peace and harmony will prevail. After all the roots, culture and history are same of both the soils."

On a lighter note after Pakistan's last win of T20 cricket match that was held on Tuesday at Bangalore Husain Javed said that only when India plays Pakistan the people who don't support it, but against any other nation the whole country prays for India's victory. When India lost to England the cricket lovers across were very upset. People on both the sides want more exchange of art and contact so the visa policies should be relaxed by both the countries.

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