Pakistan bans Bollywood and Indian television as Kashmir dispute spills over into entertainment industry

Move announced after Indian cinemas stop screening films with Pakistani stars

Lizzie Dearden@lizziedearden
Thursday 20 October 2016 18:18
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Pakistani shopkeepers and traders burn Indian products including TV transmission systems and CDs during a demonstration in Lahore on October 8, 2016
Pakistani shopkeepers and traders burn Indian products including TV transmission systems and CDs during a demonstration in Lahore on October 8, 2016

Pakistan is banning Bollywood films and all Indian programmes and music across the country’s television and radio networks amid heightened tensions with its neighbour in the disputed Kashmir region.

The two countries have exchanged cross-border fire in recent weeks, after India blamed Pakistani forces for raid on one of its army bases that left 18 soldiers dead last month and responded with “surgical strikes”.

Narendra Modi, the Indian Prime Minister, vowed that the attack would “not go unpunished”, while his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif denied his country’s forces were involved and condemned “the unprovoked and naked aggression of Indian forces”.

The escalation has provoked international alarm, spilling over into the world of entertainment and celebrity in both countries.

India blames Pakistan for ‘supporting’ Kashmir base attack

Award-winning Indian film director Karan Johan announced he would no longer use Pakistani actors in his films on Wednesday after Indian cinemas refused to show any films with Pakistani stars, and actors and technicians from Pakistan were banned from working on some Bollywood sets.

Several actors and filmmakers have been forced to leave India following threats from Hindu nationalist groups, with Bollywood films also banned in some cinemas in Pakistan.

High-profile actors including Salman Khan and Priyanka Chopra have spoken out against the trend but public anger has continued unabated on both sides.

The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority said a ban on all Indian television and radio content would come into effect on Friday, threatening to suspend broadcasters’ licences for flouting the rules.

A statement said the government had authorised the measures, which include a crackdown on the illegal sale of Indian satellite television.

Current laws, which are frequently ignored to broadcast popular shows, allow a maximum of 86 minutes of Indian programmes to be screened daily on channels in Pakistan.

The conflict in Kashmir dates back to the partition of India in 1947, with the region being subject to several wars resulting in a ceasefire along the “Line of Control”.

More than 80 people have been killed in renewed violence over recent months in the bloodiest period to hit the region in several years.

Indian security forces have also launched a crackdown on protests by Muslim separatist groups and arrested a high-profile human rights activist, prompting concern from the UN.

A spokesperson said the High Commissioner for Human Rights was “seriously concerned” about the situation.

“We urge India and Pakistan to engage in a dialogue and to de-escalate the situation,” he added.

“The inflammatory remarks on both sides only fuel the tensions and could result in a further deterioration of the human rights situation.”

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