The Rahat fiasco: Sacrificing freedom to safeguard what?

Published: March 9, 2011

Our rulers should realise that imposing restrictions will further deepen the tensions.

After singer Rahat Fateh Ali Khan’s recent India fiasco, our interior ministry came up with an order binding artistes to obtain a No Objection Certificate (NOC) for travelling to foreign countries.

The order does not seem to achieve any objectives and only slaps severe restrictions on the artiste fraternity. Local artistes, showcase their talent in foreign countries and help promote the culture of Pakistan this become a means of raising awareness about the values and traditions of our society the world over.

In Rahat Fateh Ali Khan’s case, India proceeded to take action against him under its law simply because he was carrying a huge stash of foreign currency without declaring it, an illegal act under Indian law. However, in the aftermath of this incident, issuing an order to punish the entire showbiz fraternity by putting restrictions on their travelling is simply not justified and will not address the issue. An artiste performing on foreign land should be responsible enough to realise the legalities there and adhere to them.

Later Interior Minister Rahman Malik expanded the curbs by requiring journalists and all citizens to obtain an NOC before travelling to India which will add to the troubles of people on both sides of the border. Relations between Pakistan and India have kept decaying with the rivalry brewed by power holders who have governed and influenced the state policies directly and indirectly over the past many decades.

These relations were further strained after the deadly attacks in Mumbai which created a deadlock between the two countries. This logjam can only be broken if civilians, artistes, journalists, social and human rights organisations on both sides of the border are allowed to play their role in peace efforts. Our rulers and policy-makers should realise that imposing restrictions like these on artistes, journalists and people of other fields will further deepen the tensions instead of restoring confidence and trust between the two nations.

Huma Fatima

Huma Fatima

The writer holds an MBA degree in media management from IoBM University and works at The Express Tribune.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.