KARACHI: Cultural exchange is the only way to bring India and Pakistan closer as politics has failed to achieve that, says Indian filmmaker Vishal Bhardwaj, who feels that together the two countries can be a "great force" in the world.
Bhardwaj, who was visiting Pakistan after five years, was among the Indian artistes who attended the Pakistan International Film Festival (PIFF) 2018 that concluded here on Sunday. He was a part of multiple panel discussions that took place as part of the festival and featured other artistes from India and Pakistan.
"I love Pakistan. Whenever I come here, I find a reason to come back again. I didn't find any changes. The only change I found is that the love for us has increased," Bhardwaj, a National Award winning multi-talented talent, told The News International.
On cultural exchanges between the two countries and how they can bring them closer, he said: "I think this is the only way to bring normalcy between the two countries; more and more cultural events can bridge the gap. And it's very sad that we are always at loggerheads.
"We all are alike. If we come together, we'll be such a great force in the world in terms of everything - culturally, economically as well as politically."
Bilateral tensions had intensified between India and Pakistan after the September 18, 2016 Uri attack that left 19 Indian soldiers dead and the September 28 surgical strikes by India on Pakistan terror camps the same year.
The political rift has affected cultural ties too as Pakistani artistes are not getting a chance to work in India.
Bhardwaj said time will heal the situation, reports The News International.
"I think it will get smooth with time because culture is the only way possible. Generally, there are two ways to bridge the gap: cultural and political. Politics is failing in achieving that for a long time. In fact, political situation has been affecting cultural exchanges too. Therefore, culture should be left alone.
"There is a need for tolerance and acceptance from both ends. It has to be a two-way thing otherwise it won't work."
Bhardwaj also dwelt on the popularity that Pakistani actor Fawad Khan enjoys in India.
"If bias against Pakistani actors had been there, the masses wouldn't have gone to watch their films. So, there is nothing against them in the heart of masses. Whatever else is there, it is politically motivated otherwise how would have Fawad become a superstar in India?" he asked.