Pakistan’s pre-eminent musician Shafqat Amanat Ali who has recorded some of his most beloved songs in Bollywood , including Mitwa (Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna), Yeh hausla (Dor),Tere naina (My Name Is Khan)and Allah waariya(Yaariyan) is keen to end the cultural cold war between India and Pakistan, so much so that he has decided to sing free of cost for an Indo-Pak play that Mahesh Bhatt will direct.
The affable singer tells Subhash K Jha why he is so keen on reaching out across the border.
What makes you feel so enthused about renewal of warm ties between the two countries?
The relationship between the two countries has been strained for too long and if the peace dialogue and initiatives resume that is a great reason to be enthusiastic.
Recently Pakistani actors like Fawad Khan and Mahira Khan were stopped from visiting India. How did you and the Pakistani artistic fraternity respond to this peculiar situation?
Well, this was the first time anything like this happened. In the past there were a few sad incidents too which had derailed the peace process and strained relations but this is the first time such an extreme thing was seen. It was sad because it takes years of many people’s work and efforts to reach a certain point in the peace process. Not just artistes in Pakistan, even artistes in India expressed their sadness and shock.
What do you think is the solution to the deadlock between the two countries?
Unfortunately the solution to this is only at a political level even though I as an artiste do not want to get into the politics of it. Common people in both the countries get affected by these strained relations and get instigated on both sides when such incidents happen but they need to understand that there are certain forces or external powers that ruin this peace between the two nations as they don’t want the two to co-exist in harmony and peace. Only when such an understanding is reached can the relationship become stronger between the two.
Why did you agree to join hands with Mahesh Bhatt Saheb?
Because he is taking the initiative to re-start the peace process and is taking the initiative to talk once again of peace, love and harmony. He has always spoken of harmonious relations between the two neighbours and his play comes at an important point in time and is a much needed initiative to resume cultural exchange and people to people contact.
Is this a new beginning for Indo-Pak ties?
Well ,hopefully yes. I am sure this play and this project will be an important step in resolving issues and it will strengthen the endeavors of other people who are working towards peace and harmony.
When do you hope to come back to India?
As soon as things start moving in a positive direction.