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Renowned Indian actor Mumtaz, who recently visited Pakistan along with her sister Mallika, has voiced her support for lifting the embargo on Pakistani artists, emphasising the need for cross-border cultural exchange. The veteran actor took to her Instagram handle to share glimpses of her trip, including moments spent with Pakistani actors and classical singers.

In a candid interview with Zoom, Mumtaz expressed gratitude for the warm hospitality extended to her by Pakistani artistes during her visit. She recounted heartwarming experiences, such as Fawad Khan reserving an entire restaurant for her and Rahat Fateh Ali Khan singing despite being unwell. Reflecting on her interactions with artists like Ghulam Ali, Mumtaz remarked, “They are no different from us.”

During the interview, Mumtaz highlighted the wealth of talent present in both Indian and Pakistani entertainment industries. “They should be allowed to come and work here. They are talented,” she asserted, advocating for opportunities for Pakistani artists in Bollywood. Despite acknowledging the abundance of talent in Mumbai’s film industry, Mumtaz emphasised the importance of fostering collaboration and exchange between artists from both countries.

“I agree we have no dearth of talent in the Mumbai film industry but they (Pakistani artists) should also be given a chance,” she stated, underscoring the significance of providing equal opportunities to artists across borders.

The Indian entertainment industry’s ban on Pakistani artists, dating back to the aftermath of the 2016 Uri terror attack, continues to be a contentious issue, highlighting the complexities of cultural diplomacy between India and Pakistan. The call for restrictions on cross-border talent exchange emerged as a response to heightened tensions between the two nations.

In the wake of the Uri attack, demands for a ban on Pakistani artists gained momentum across various sections of Indian society. Notable figures such as Fawad Khan, Mahira Khan, Atif Aslam and Rahat Fateh Ali Khan found themselves at the centre of the controversy, prompting the Indian Motion Picture Producers Association (IMPPA) to take decisive action.

As per WION, the IMPPA, citing concerns related to “security” and “patriotism,” resolved to enforce a ban on Pakistani artists working in India, effectively halting cultural exchanges between the two countries. The decision to ban Pakistani artists in India was not limited to the IMPPA alone. The Federation of Western India Cine Employees (FWICE), in coordination with its affiliates, unanimously supported the imposition of restrictions on Pakistani artists and technicians, further solidifying the stance against cross-border engagement in the entertainment sector.

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