India may lift ban on Pakistani TV channels
NEW DELHI: India Saturday assured Pakistan that it would consider a proposal to lift a ban on Pakistani television channels from airing in the country. This development came after Pakistan Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani’s strong pitch last week suggesting that India permit the transmission of not just the Pakistani state-run channel, but private channels as well, according to the Times of India.
Foreign Secretary Jilani had said that Indian channels were available in Pakistan, and that Islamabad had done nothing to impose restrictions on their telecast. During talks between the two countries last week, Pakistan told the Indian delegation led by Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai that if India desired to boost people-to-people contacts, it ought to allow the airing of Pakistani channels into Indian homes.
The Pakistani delegation recalled the popularity of TV dramas such as Deewarein, Waris and Jungle in the 1980s in India, and said the new generation of Pakistani channels and programmes had the potential to become just as popular.
An Indian source later disclosed that the Indian side was seriously considering the suggestion: “It was conveyed to [Pakistan] that India will look positively at the proposal although the matter will have to be first discussed by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and its counterpart in Pakistan,” said a source, adding that Pakistani state-run television’s “anti-India” campaign over Jammu and Kashmir had been a source of concern in the past.
In 2009, the Pakistani Senate’s Standing Committee on Information and Broadcasting appealed to the Indian Parliament to allow the airing of Pakistani channels in India. The same Senate asked Pakistani cable operators to stop airing Indian TV channels the following year, citing a “cultural invasion.” But with people-to-people contacts finding favour, the most recent Pakistani request is likely to fall on receptive ears in New Delhi.
Both India and Pakistan are contemplating signing a MoU for the promotion of arts and culture during Indian Minister for External Affairs SM Krishna’s visit to Pakistan in early September. The two sides are also expected to further hasten the groundwork for Krishna’s visit as Pakistan High Commissioner-designate Salman Bashir finally presented his credentials before President Pratibha Patil and assumed full charge after weeks of waiting. As a former foreign secretary, Bashir was instrumental in bringing ties back on track after the hiatus caused by the 26/11 attacks.
The MoU was proposed by Pakistan after the Pakistan National Centre of Arts (PNCA) took the lead in the wake of a visit by its patron-in-chief Tauqueer Ahmed Nasir to India for “informal” meetings in April. Among other things, Pakistan hopes to export its street puppet shows — extremely popular in the country — to India.
During the talks, both sides underlined the importance of greater people-to-people contacts and friendly exchanges in building “a relationship of trust and friendship.” They emphasised the importance of greater parliamentary exchanges, the promotion of cooperation in various fields, facilitating visits to religious shrines as well as the “cessation of hostile propaganda against each other.”