New Delhi: Banning artistes, writers, actors and poets gives a victory to the terrorists and extremists who don't want people-to-people contact, Pakistani sufi-rock band Junoon's frontman Salman Ahmad said.
His comments came after the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) issued an "ultimatum" to all Pakistani artistes to quit India within 48 hours or face trouble.
MNS had issued the so-called ultimatum on 23 September to all Pakistani cine and television artistes to leave India. The political party told the media that there was "an anti-Pakistan" wave across India after the 18 September terror attack that left 18 Indian soldiers dead at Uri in Jammu and Kashmir.
Ahmad, who is soon going to unveil Junoon's 25th anniversary special album Junoon 25 in various countries, including India, said that stopping cultural exchanges between the two neighbouring nations is not the solution.
"Terrorists and extremists don't want people-to-people contact. They only want to create fear," Ahmad told IANS over e-mail and phone interactions.
"We live in an inter-connected world. Indian actor Om Puri, whose Pakistani film Actor In Law is doing record business in Pakistan, recently visited Pakistani cities and TV shows promoting the film. Indian artistes are embraced by Pakistanis. Similarly, Indian music companies, film producers and event organisers invite Pakistani artistes because it also makes good business," he added.
Ahmad, whose compositions were recently used in Bollywood film Rhythm, is looking forward to perform in India soon.
"After our new album Junoon 25 is released in November by Universal Music, Junoon hopes to do a world tour and we would love to perform for our Indian fans," the Lahore-based guitarist and songwriter said.
Isn't he concerned about his safety in the country?
He recalled that when the band, which earlier consisted of artistes like Ali Azmat and Brian O'Connell, first visited India in 1998 after the chart-topping number Sayonee, people in general asked him the same question as a nuclear bomb test had been conducted by India that year.
Forget about hatred or fear, he said that the band received "nothing, but just love" from Indian fans.
The same was true for Indian artistes when they come to Pakistan for festivals, he said.
"I would rather rule hearts and minds of people by holding a guitar rather than holding a gun to somebody's head," said the musician, who has worked with Indian classical artistes like Samir Chatterjee and Kedarnath Havaldar on the upcoming album.
The band has re-launched its entire catalogue of seven studio albums digitally. And finally, their new studio album will be launched worldwide this November.
But doesn't he miss his old bandmates?
"I can't believe its our silver jubilee. I have met such great musicians. If I get stuck with the same people, I would feel like I am in a prison. I love performing with different artistes. We have guests like Peter Gabriel, Outlandish and Ali Zafar on Junoon 25'," said Ahmad, who was part of the band which gave hits like Ghoom tana, Meri awaz suno, Yaar bina and Mitti.
He also wants people to remember his songs rather than just the band members. Whether the band members remain the same or not, the music should be timeless," he signed off.