KOLKATA: In spite of the jubiliation over surgical strikes inside PoK to 'avenge' Uri attack and flight of Pakistani artistes from India, Pakistani music lovers from Bengal see music and it's exchange as the only path in ensuring long-lasting peace between the two nations.
Pakistani actor Fawad Khan left India recently after threats by Maharashtra Navanirman Sena in Mumbai, a song by Rahat Fateh Ali Khan was decided to be removed from an upcoming Bollywood flick and a concert by classical singer Shafqat Ali Khan slated to be held in Bengaluru was also cancelled in the wake of the tense situation between the neighbours.
"Why should music come in between politics of nations? Music has no borders. We will continue enjoying Pakistani music including Pakistan Coke Studio, which is way more matured than ours and eloquently brings out the folk culture without destroying it much, unlike our Bollywood-obsessed creations," said Wriddhiman Ganguly, a student of Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur.
For many youths of the eastern Indian state, love for Urdu -- despite the language's troubled history with Bengalis in neighbouring Bangladesh and formerly East Pakistan -- comes with a clause: understanding every word of the songs. Subtitles come handy but not to lose any word in translation, help of Urdu-speaking Bihari Muslim friends are also sought.
"Many of my Bengali friends randomly ask meaning of Urdu words. I tell them the meaning and ask where they heard it? Most reply Coke Studio songs from Pakistan," said Anwar Ali, a student of City College in Kolkata.
In Bengal, the hardcore Pak music lovers' love goes much beyond Coke Studio renditions and digs deep into the likes of Ghulam Ali, Abida Parveen, Iqbal Bano, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, Fareeda Khanum, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Mehdi Hasan among many others.
"The forcing of Pakistani artistes to leave the country, removal of songs and cancellation of concerts due to tense situation between the neighbours has given a very wrong signal -- that politics looms large over everything else that binds us two nations together. The hawks in both nations have taken over, braying for each other's blood. Where will the music lovers go? Will we be branded as traitors as well?," questions Jadavpur University student Anjan Das.
Exchange of artistes instead of kicking them out of the two antagonist countries is felt by some as a way to increase cultural exchange and thus more people-to-people contacts.
"Top Indian musicians should form a group and make a visit to Pakistan and hold concerts there with Pakistani musicians. 'Aman ka paigaam' is needed now, not during peace situations. These concerts may diffuse the tense situation. But will Pakistan provide security for them or will India allow it? Any attack on them would mean war. Whatever we can we should do to prevent a war," stated a desperate Monali Biswas of National Institute of Technology, Durgapur.