In 2016, the elected Heads in India were happy to be bystanders, while chest-beating patriots drove Pakistani actors away.

Outraging about Donald Trump deporting people Take a moment to remember Fawad KhanPTI
Voices Opinion Monday, January 30, 2017 - 16:59

One of the first things the new President of the United States, Donald Trump, has done after taking office is to issue an executive order on immigration.

Called 'Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States', the order prohibits entry to all refugees for 120 days. It bans Syrians, refugees or otherwise, from entering the country until future notice. Further, no visas will be issued to migrants or visitors from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen – all of them Muslim countries – for 90 days. 

Though it has been said that green card holders will not be affected by the order, the White House has declared that citizens from the seven Muslim countries should expect increased "border controls". 

Judges from at least four states have succeeded in blocking a part of the ban, asking the government to stop deporting refugees and other travelers stuck in US airports. But no matter how this order plays out in the coming days, the intention of the Trump government is clear. 

Meanwhile, the rest of the world is outraging about this rank display of xenophobia/ Islamophobia. Including Indians. The stories of people who've lived in the US for years being denied entry because they took a trip to their home country, which happens to be on Trump's blacklist, have moved many to comment on how narrow-minded and unfair the whole circus is. 

But let's rewind to September 2016 when relations between India and Pakistan hit an all-time low after the Uri attack, which killed 18 Indian army personnel at a camp in Kashmir. 

Within days, the MNS, which won a grand total of one seat in the 2014 Maharashtra Assembly elections and had a vote share of 3%, issued a diktat that all Pakistani artists should leave India within 48 hours. If not, there would be "consequences". 

Not only did they demand that Pakistani artists should pack up and leave, they also declared that films featuring them would not be allowed to release. Bollywood director Karan Johar's Ae Dil Hai Mushkil with the delectable Fawad Khan was due to hit the screens and social media, at that point, was divided on whether Fawad and other Pakistanis should be permitted to work in India or not.

The anti-Pakistan sentiment was so strong that after Fawad Khan was forced to stay away from India for good, a fabricated statement issued in his name, calling Indian people "small-hearted", was circulated to justify his (and others') ouster. 

The chest-beating patriots sharing these anti-Pakistan memes, posters and fake articles were not all MNS goons but ordinary people who felt vindicated in their misplaced hatred. It was as if they'd always known that Fawad Khan was "like that only"! None of them believed that driving away the Pakistani artists would resolve the Kashmir conflict or get rid of terrorism but they enjoyed the venom of the tit-for-tat tactic. 

Eventually, the Maharashtra CM, Devendra Fadnavis, called for a meeting between Raj Thackeray of the MNS (who came into prominence through thuggery and continues to be in the limelight only for threats of violence) and Karan Johar, and reached a "compromise". 

This included a commitment from the Producers' Guild that every producer who'd cast a Pakistani in their film would pay Rs 5 crore to the Army Welfare Fund. The Guild also passed a resolution, effectively banning Pakistani artists from working in Bollywood. 

Let's be clear: None of this happened lawfully. It happened under the threat of violence. It happened because the democratically elected governments – at the state and centre – allowed it to happen and refused to intervene. At least, in the US, it was an elected Head of State who issued the order. In India, the elected Heads were happy to be bystanders. 

Ae Dil Hai Mushkil came and went, with its soppy hero and unnaturally cheerful heroine. 2016 turned into 2017 and India, with the rest of the world, shared sentimental videos of Obama's last days at the White House. And now, as we're busy denouncing Trump for his intolerance and pointing a finger at the "dumb" Americans who elected him, it's a good time to recall that old proverb about four fingers pointing back at us. 

Note: Views expressed are the personal opinions of the author.

 

 

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