Cultural exchange with Pakistan, courtesy Indiblogger : Jodey Dilon Ko

Published June 22, 2014 by vishalvkale


The title says it all… an event to engage with Pakistani Television actors etc in its Zindagi Jode Dilon Ko Blogger Meet, to be featured on the new Zindagi Channel. The concept seemed interesting – engage culturally with our main enemy, the one nation with whom we are at constant loggerheads, and the one nation with whom we have had 4 wars. To make matters worse, Pakistan is the one nation who we has regularly fomented trouble in the form of terrorism in India. In this backdrop, a cultural exchange seems, at first glance, very strange. 

Before I go onto the Meet proper, let us all look at the other side of the picture : our new PM’s engagement with the Pakistani PM : the first of its kind in years, and the reciprocation in the form of a visit – which seemed impossible only a few months ago. The focus, on back-channel diplomacy and building bridges seems to be the flavour of the day. And in that, trade and cultural interchanges form an integral part. 

For the hawks {I should know, I too was on the borderline of the hawk brigade till I engaged with some lucid and well-argued books by Indian Authors, listed below} : Please go through the following books to get a better picture of Pakistan. Pakistan is a very different country to ours, and it would be a capital mistake to equate their polity and internal ethos with ours. It is a nation categorised by multiple power centers and other related problems {beyond the scope of this blogpost}. In such a scenario, any step that develops and strenghthens the peace-loving brigade in Pakistan and India both is always welcome. Please read the following for more information : 

Thus, in this backdrop, it is of mutual interest to increase trade and cultural exchanges, trying to build bridges and create a barrier to further escalation of tensions. Perhaps, over the period of a few years, with the advent a new generation in both our countries, we will actually succeed in wiping out the current hatred. Witness France – England, or USA / UK – Germany, for instance; or even Japan – USA. Could anyone have predicted in 1945 that they will go on to become close allies? Fine, the ground realities and process followed in those cases was vastly different – but the main common point is that it can be done, the hate can be bridged, and a workable way forward can be found. 


The core event was an interaction with Imran Abbas & Sultana Siddiqui from Pakistan. There was a nice interchange between bloggers and the Pakistani artists about Pakistani shows and their positives, as also the near-ubiquitous following of Indian shows in Pakistan. This was a start, a first event; so drawing any conclusions from it, or the interaction would be being unfair to both sides, so let us leave that aside. The best part for me was that an Indian and a Pakistani can face each other and talk about something positive, driven by mutual interest.

It was a different feeling, a strange feeling – even though I am aware of our similarities; but facing it face-t0-face, upfront was a revelation; the similarities in language, looks and music were a revelation even to me, a person well aware of these facts. The only regret – there should have been a greater interchange, a greater exchange, perhaps a wider selection of performers and artists from across the border, with more time devoted to the exchange. 

Did the thought “why is this man {or his country, to be precise} my enemy” cross my mind? To be perfectly frank, no it did not. And that is the most significant point to me, despite being aware of the realities {the presence of a moderate peace-loving element} within Pakistan to some extent. That means it is possible to rise above hate, and above conflict, for howsoever short a time may it be. That one point alone holds hope for peace : alongwith trade.
It is equally true that I was watching and interacting with an artist from an enemy nation {let us all be brutally honest to ourselves here}, who was representing his country, and was on a simple mission to connect with members of the prospective audience for his arts on the new channel. This the artists did admirably well : their conduct, as far as I could see, was picture-perfect; they were perfect ambassadors for their nation. Pakistan, and its image, could use a lot more such events and interactions. 

Did it  make me want to watch their programmes? Frankly, I am blank on that point; the content just wasn’t enough for me to take a call on that. That was the other regret : perhaps a couple of interesting 15-minute shows would have made the meet a far more powerful one. The show exposed me to the moderate element within Pakistan, which was a plus any which way you look at it; but it left me wanting more. Perhaps this, being a start, can be overlooked – hopefully in future such intra-nation events, Team Indiblogger will keep my suggestions in mind! 

All in all it was a unique first-of-its-kind event, connecting two people across a political divide, and creating mutual benefit. The other aspect was the revelation that even young Indians do watch some Pakistani serials and content – which should not seem strange, or even objectionable. Remember Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and his Mumbai contributions? But does it all add up? Will this interaction {culture + trade} bridge the divide? All that lies in the future, and depends upon a peaceful coexistence between the two of us, devoid of terrorist attacks, and cross-border violence. That is the core, the non-negotiable reality. The ball is firmly in Pakistan’s court; I just hope the moderates in Pakistan win the day…

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