ISLAMABAD - When everything fails to convert bitter hostile diplomatic relations between the two arch rivals, art and culture perhaps is the only genre that can do wonders for conversion of antagonistic relations into friendly and cordial relations.
Carrying on this statement in a wider spectrum, Pakistan National Council of the Arts (PNCA) Director General Tauqir Nasir in his exclusive talk to Pakistan Today on Tuesday said that cultural ties between India and Pakistan were ready for a new chapter.
After his return from India on a weeklong official tour to sign a cultural pact with the two sub-continent ideological rivals, Nasir said India-Pakistan pact for exchange in music, dance, theatre and visual arts could become reality next year with the Pakistan National Council of the Arts (PNCA) renewing a dialogue with the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR).
With the tinge of hope in his eyes in promotion of people-to-people contacts through art and culture between the two nuclear powers, the DG said six years ago, the two countries had decided to sign an MoU with the Indian Council for Cultural Relations, but it was stuck for cultural exchange. “But we want to carry the MoU forward to promote people-to-people contact. Every Pakistani heart is open. India should also open the door of its heart to Pakistani art and culture," Nasir said.
Tauqir Nasir, a renowned television and film actor of yesteryears, said the objective of his visit to India was to revive the "exchange that flourished during the 1980s and the 1990s". He said the pact should be ready by next year.
The PNCA chief said: “Like we have been pushing bilateral trade, culture is also trade. We want to push it. India and Pakistan have so much in common. The two countries share a link of civilization since ancient Mohenjodaro and Harappa era," he said.
It was Nasir’s first visit to India to attend the Pakistan Lifestyle Week at Pragati Maidan in the capital. “Pakistan is currently working with 58 countries and the UNESCO in cultural exchange and India has yet to come on board officially,” he said.
The PNCA, which earlier functioned under the country’s cultural ministry, is now under the ministry of national heritage and integration, Nasir said. It has three arms - the visual arts department, performing arts department and the national puppet theatre.
Nasir said he wanted to create a market for Pakistani soft power in India like the way Indian soft power was in demand in his country. "Viewers from both countries look for Indian cinema and Pakistan`s theatre on television," Nasir said.
"I want to invite cultural icons from India to Pakistan. I want to invite Gulzar and organise fusion festival if Indian and Pakistani dance. We should think of ways to remove obstacles that impede cultural exchange because cultural exchange promotes peace," Nasir said. He said Pakistan’s Hum television channel was in the process of tying up with Zee television in India.
Nasir said: "The national puppet theatre under PNCA is an amazing organisation of puppeteers who have been trained in Japan and China". The puppet artists go to remote areas and visit distressed populations - like oustees - to entertain them with puppet shows from traditional and contemporary literature. "The theatre also takes up social issues," he maintained.
Stressing upon the soft image of the country, Nasir said over the last year, PNCA has been organising Sufi Aman festivals of music and dance across the country and promoting artists from ethnic areas like Waziristan to bring tribal arts to the mainstream".
"We are collaborating with UNESCO in archiving tangible and intangible heritage in three phases. We have digitised our written and visual heritage in archives. Islamabad also has 14 art galleries with contemporary paintings and sculptures. The government also has a permanent collection of modern art," Nasir said.
"We want to host exhibitions of Indian art in Pakistan," he said. DG PNCA said with the bilateral relations coming back on track, Pakistan is keen to have an agreement with India in the field of culture to bring the two nations closer and create markets for art. Nasir said while having informal discussions with with Director General of Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) Suresh K Goel about sigining a cultural pact between the two nations he said he was hopeful that a pact would materialise soon.
"There is an MoU, which is in progress. I hope we can materialise those things. In simple terms, it is almost agreed from both sides. There is no problem.- We want this cultural pact should be done. We can do it in practical," Nasir said.
Observing that there is a market in both the countries for art, drama, music and puppet shows, he said Pakistan has created a market for Indian software but the same did not happen in India. "I think we can create a market in both sides. We have created a space and want to promote bilateral relations with India that’s why an MoU was planned. "Now Pakistan will again revive its efforts. The motive is to increase our cultural exchange," he said. Asked how hopeful he was, "I am optimistic- we will have something new between two countries to break the ice,” Nasir concluded.