Shafqat Amanat Ali Image Credit: Supplied

Pakistani singer Shafqat Amanat Ali wonders why there is no exchange of artistic talent between his country and India when all other trade between the two countries is intact.

India has unofficially banned Pakistani artists from performing in the country.

“Art and entertainment industry is a soft target. They know that they can’t fight back, so [they] just ban it. It is very easy. Otherwise, there is lot of trade that is happening between India and Pakistan,” Ali said over the phone from Lahore. “If you go to the Attari-Wagah border, one can see trucks bringing goods and exchanging goods from both the sides. That import and export business is running full-fledged. People are waiting with their trucks and are off-loading.”

“If we stop that, it would lead to chaos,” he added. “But they know that they if they put a ban on artists or actors or people who are related to art, they will express themselves through media or social media platforms. Nothing else.”

Ali has sung Bollywood songs such as ‘Mitwa’, ‘Tere Naina’, ‘Allah Waariyan’, ‘Bin Tere’ and ‘Dildaara’.

The singer, who has now lent his voice to a song in upcoming web series ‘Tripling Season 2’, says that there “is a lot of other stuff which we can do positively and we are not doing that”.

In 2016, Indian film associations placed an unofficial ban on Pakistani talent from working in the country.

In the same year, Pakistani film exhibitors and cinema owners banned the screening of Indian films in the country in the wake of heightened tensions with India over the September 18, 2016 terror attack at Uri. The ban was later lifted.

The Uri attack had led the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) in Mumbai to give an ultimatum to Pakistani artists to leave India. Zindagi channel withdrew the telecast of Pakistani shows, and the Indian Motion Pictures Producers Association (IMPPA) passed a resolution to ban Pakistani artists from working in India.

As a result, Ali’s Bengaluru concert got cancelled too in 2016. Since then, he has sung for Indian films such as ‘Mulk’, ‘Ishqeria’ and ‘Bhaiaji Superhit’. But there have been no live shows.

Does he miss performing in India?

“Of course I do. If you talk to people who visited Pakistan to support their team in the last India-Pakistan match, [they will say] they went back after a very emotionally charged trip.

“They were given so much love. And we also received a lot of love, respect and appreciation for our work in India. I miss performing in India and it is high time that they lift the ban.”