Pakistani actors threatened, Indian Film Festival called off in Sydney
Festival director Vikas Paul says, "I have received threats from vested interest groups and was worried about the security of my celebrity guests, myself, sponsors and my team so we have decided to defer it”.
Sydney, May 7, 2017: Indian film Festival which was supposed to take place in Sydney, Australia has been canceled after the objections over the participation of Pakistani actors by the Indian community in the country.
Indians have been opposing Pakistani actors in India as a result of which many Pakistani actors had to leave the country for a certain period of time. Now, actors have also been threatened in Sydney.
The festival is being treated as anti-Indian on the social media. Festival director Vikas Paul says, “I have received threats from vested interest groups and was worried about the security of my celebrity guests, myself, sponsors and my team so we have decided to defer it”. Paul emailed his statement “We were to also see some artists from Indian Sub-Continent, who were to perform and attend the event, to promote harmony and peace among two countries. But fundamentalist groups here [in Australia] turned it into a political agenda.”
This opposition is in the light of Uri attack in Kashmir which resulted in the martyrdom of 17 soldiers and the breaking of the cease-fire now and then by the Pakistani soldiers has been aggravating the situation.
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The festival was supposed to run for a week starting from 7th may. Many Indian celebrities including Arjun Rampal, Sonu Sood, Dharmendra, Javed Akhtar, Jitendra, Illeana DCruz and many more were expected to be here and to share the stage with the Pakistani actors. However, they showed apprehensions and denied from doing so.
As a result of these threats, Vivek has canceled Pakistani participation in the festival and has made it an “India-Only” performance.
Paul further added “Even after withdrawing the Pakistani actors and with heightened pressure over our event from ‘anti’ groups, we have decided not to go ahead with the event in view of the safety of not just the celebrities, my personal and family’s well-being, but also for the thousands of people who will be present to view the cultural extravaganza.”
A Pakistani court has summoned several TV reporters from the country’s largest private TV station over accusations of “ridiculing” last year’s ruling that barred Valentine’s Day celebrations and its media coverage across the country.
On February 14, Geo TV’s popular Report Card show dedicated a 15-minute segment to discussing the justification of the court’s ban on Valentine’s Day coverage and celebrations.
Two of the panelists in the show questioned the rationale for the ban.
Hasan Nisar, a prominent Lahore-based political analyst, declared the restrictions “illogical” and “ridiculous” for society.
“I do not even have anything to say on it, it’s funny,” Nisar said.
Echoing Nisar, Imtiaz Alam, a leading reporter and panelist of the show, said the restrictions were “useless.”
“How can the court interfere as it is against the fundamental rights of the people? Do we have Taliban regime in Pakistan?” Alam asked.
“This is a cultural martial law and curfew to enforce the extreme ideologies. This is a sick mindset, and the moral policing through PEMRA [Pakistan Electronic Media Authority] is shameless,” Alam said.
Last year, on February 13, Islamabad’s High Court declared Valentine’s Day celebration un-Islamic and imposed a ban on any public or official celebrations.
The government reinstated the ban for a second consecutive year earlier this month to comply with the court’s ruling.
PEMRA also issued a fresh directive to remind its TV and radio licensees to refrain from promoting the day on their stations.
“Respondents are directed to ensure that nothing about the celebrations of Valentine’s Day and its promotion is spread on the electronic and print media,” PEMRA’s notification reads.
On charges of failing to adhere to the court’s order and PEMRA’s instruction, Islamabad court summoned the Geo TV host, two guests and the chief executive officer of the station to appear before the court next week and defend themselves in a contempt-of-court case.
“This act of the host and the participants apparently is tainted with malafide, ulterior motives, aims to undermine the authority of the court and to disrespect the order passed by the court, which clearly comes within the definition of the contempt of court,” the court said, according to local media.
The ban on Valentine’s Day celebrations and sensitivity toward it are not new in Pakistan. Some political and religious groups, such as Jamaat-i-Islami, have carried out rallies and protests against the celebration of the day, declaring it “unethical and un-Islamic.”
There have been instances in the past where local authorities prohibited the February 14 festivities in different cities across the nation.
In 2016, President Mamnoon Hussain also warned Pakistanis to stay away from celebrating Valentine’s Day, declaring it was “not a part of Muslim tradition, but of the West.”
Valentine’s celebrations have increased in Pakistan over the last decade, particularly among the country’s youth.
The enforcement of the ban on its celebration and media coverage for a second consecutive year has sparked a larger debate among some of the country’s liberal and conservative circles.
A section of the society defends the celebrations and considers them harmless, though for others the day does not have any place in their religious practices or their traditions.
Pakistan, for the most part, is a conservative Muslim society. Public displays of affection are not the norm and often are viewed as unacceptable.
But some Pakistanis, like Saleema Hashmi, a Lahore-based artist, and renowned educator, believe the system is focusing on “irrelevant issues” at the expense of more important and pressing issues the country faces.
“Don’t our courts have better things to do instead of passing rulings on celebrating a mere romantic day?” she asked. “I do not understand how celebrating or denouncing Valentine’s Day can impact our religion, traditions, social or cultural norms.” (VOA)