Statement on Action against Cultural and sports activities (Pakistan)
As a cultural organisation, devoted to the cause of solidarity of all peoples, SAHMAT has been dismayed by the series of official and semi-official measures that have followed the unfortunate incidents on the Line of Actual Control in Jammu and Kashmir, in which soldiers on both sides have lost their lives. On such occasions it is most important to keep the avenues of communication open, even if for the purpose of conveying one’s own version of events to such people on the other side whom one can reach. To close down such avenues deliberately is surely sense-less and self-defeating. By shutting down visas that were to be made available to aged Pakistan entrants, sending back Pakistan cricketers and sportswomen, refusing to stage Manto’s plays by visiting Pakistan theatre persons, and banning Pakistan’s persons of literature from participating in functions in India, are measures that manifestly belittle the image of our Republic, and do nothing to serve the cause of peace and improve relations between our two peoples. SAHMAT notes that amidst the jingoistic din of the media, some leading newspapers in their editorials have shown maturity by criticising these measures and the official pronouncements which inspired these actions. India and Pakistan have a rich cultural legacy to share, of which a common appreciation of Manto and the devotion to the sport of cricket are just two illustrations. Only those who scorn this legacy, and therefore the richness of their own culture, can commit the acts of intolerance that have taken place. SAHMAT hopes that good sense will prevail and our doors will be soon reopened to ordinary people as well as representatives of culture and sport from Pakistan. It goes without saying that we also hope similar gestures will be made by the Government of Pakistan.