First, let’s put this out in very clear terms: Pakistani actors should not be banned from working in our film industry. Yes, despite the harm the Pakistan State has done to our country over many decades. Yes, howsoever much you love your country, banning Pakistani actors is no solution. Yes, Salman Khan is right. It’s unnecessary and nonsensical.
And yet, what is also nonsensical is the amount of coverage and attention the issue is getting from our mainstream media. A day after India successfully and openly conducted a “surgical strike” against Pakistan by crossing the LoC, there are having prime time debates over Fawad Khan and Mahira Khan. Really?
Yes, it's true that most Indians have been uneasy over the past few days because of the terror attacks and India’s earlier tepid response. Many had felt (until the strike) that we might be losing this strategic battle against our neighbour. Hence, it's not surprising that many Indians feel that banning actors from Pakistan is a step in the right direction.
And to be fair, they are not wrong. Until recently, the Indian government had no answer to Pakistan’s constant and repetitive aggression. All they saw was dossiers being exchanged and phone calls being made to the United States. Many felt (and rightly so) that Pakistan needed to be paid back “in a language” it would understand.
And that happened. About forty-eight hours ago. Indians openly accepted that it carried out a strike against Pakistan. Against terror launch pads “in Pakistan”. Yes, these strikes may not be new but accepting it is. And that’s an incredibly courageous move by the Prime Minister. It sends out a strong message not only to Pakistan but also acts, as a relief to the people that - yes their government will not take the killing of their citizens and soldiers lightly and can retaliate when it has to.
Look at what we are being made to watch on our news channels: Film critics and film associations fighting over Pakistani actors? Our freedom fighters would have been heartbroken had they seen the state of affairs today.
This is not only annoying and frustrating for the general audience but it is also disrespectful and insulting to the many who gave up their lives for the nation.
Our media should have been more sensitive and focused more on our soldiers, their sacrifices and the misery their families go through.
But this isn’t entirely unexpected. It has become a “new normal” of sorts where we are kept busy and distracted with irrelevant issues. The issue of Pakistani actors should probably be the least of our concerns right now but here we are debating and discussing them. People, there are more important problems in our country that need our attention.
This strange phenomenon isn’t just restricted to our borders. Consider the United States for instance. Recently, there were terror attacks in New York and New Jersey. Terrible and shocking news, right? But this is not what the American media was busy arguing about. It was about Donald Trump and how he mentioned the word “bombing” without first checking the facts. It seemed as if the media was more annoyed that Donald Trump got it right than the fact there were terror attacks on their soil. The main issue of the threat by radical Islam – well, who cares?
Or consider the recent burkini ban in France. Yes, no liberal country should prohibit it. Let people wear or do what they want to do. But it got so much attention that people (especially “liberals”) completely sidestepped the primary issue of immigration. Yes, there is no threat from a burkini but open borders do. And no one was willing to discuss that. And then they wonder and crib about the rise of extreme right-wing parties across Europe.
In essence, what it eventually does is that we ignore the real problems and get upset about the issues that we should least care about. And because we ignore the “problems” – in this case – how to deal with Pakistan – we also are unable to have a proper civil discussion over how we could find a solution and what the public opinion over this is.
But now that the media has made Fawad Khan and Mahira Khan household names across India, it will be great if the names of our soldiers who laid down their lives in Pathankot and Uri are discussed with same passion, intensity and patriotism.