Saturday, July 14, 2012

India looking to reverse ban on Pakistani TV channels

Pakistanis told the Indian delegation that if
India wants to spruce up people-to-people
contacts, it must allow Pakistani channels
into Indian homes.
-Times of India
NEW DELHI: India has assured Pakistan that it will consider a proposal to lift the ban on Pakistani television channels in the country. This was after Pakistani foreign secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani's strong pitch last week proposing India allow transmission of not just Pakistan government ( PTV) but also private channels, both news and non-news.Making his point, Jilani said all Indian channels are available in Pakistan and Islamabad has done nothing to impose restrictions on their telecast.
During talks between the two countries here last week, Pakistanis told the Indian delegation, led by foreign secretary Ranjan Mathai, that if India wants to spruce up people-to- people contacts, it must allow Pakistani channels into Indian homes.Pakistanis recalled popularity of PTV's soaps like Deewarein, Waris and Jungle in the 1980s in India saying current programmes on Pakistani channels have the potential to become as popular. 


PTV 'anti-India' drive a worry 
Indians seem to have conceded the point. "It was conveyed to them (Pakistan) that India will look positively at the proposal although the matter will have to be first discussed by the information and broadcasting ministry and its counterpart in Pakistan," said a source, adding that PTV's "anti-India" campaign in the past over internal issues, including Jammu and Kashmir, has been a concern. 


In 2009, Pakistani Senate's standing committee on information and broadcasting appealed to the Indian Parliament to ensure airing of Pakistani channels in India. The same Senate next year asked Pakistani cable operators to stop airing Indian TV channels citing "cultural invasion". But with people-to-people contacts finding favour, the Pakistani request might fall on more receptive ears in New Delhi. 


India and Pakistan are looking at signing an MoU for promotion of arts and culture during the visit of foreign minister S M Krishna to Pakistan in early September. The two sides are expected to further hasten the groundwork for Krishna's visit as Pakistan's high commissioner-designate Salman Bashir finally presented his credentials before President Pratibha Patil and assumed full charge after weeks of waiting. As a former foreign secretary, Bashir was instrumental in bringing ties back on track after the hiatus caused by 26/11 attacks. 


The MoU was also proposed by Pakistan with its Pakistan National Centre of Arts (PNCA) taking the lead after its patron-in-chief Tauqueer Ahmed Nasir visited India for "informal" meetings in April. Among other things, Pakistan wants its street puppet shows, extremely popular in the country, to be performed in India. 


During the talks, both sides underlined the importance of greater people-to-people contacts and friendly exchanges in building "a relationship of trust and friendship between the two countries". They emphasized the importance of greater parliamentary exchanges; promotion of cooperation in various fields including facilitating visits to religious shrines and "cessation of hostile propaganda against each other".

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