Pakistan envoy Abdul Basit disappointed by cancellation of Ghulam Ali's concert

Reacting to ghazal maestro Ghulam Ali's concert being cancelled in Mumbai, Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit said cultural exchanges are important elements of bilateral ties which his country 'encourages'

New Delhi: Pakistan today expressed disappointment over the cancellation of ghazal maestro Ghulam Ali's concert in Mumbai after Shiv Sena threatened to disrupt it.

Reacting to the development, Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit said cultural exchanges are important elements of bilateral ties which his country "encourages".

The Pakistani singer was scheduled to perform in Mumbai on Friday. 

"We do encourage artistes to visit both sides and perform. As far as Pakistan is concerned, our policy is very constructive, very positive. When Indian artistes go to Pakistan, they do not come across such opposition," Basit told reporters on the sidelines of an event.

Organisers of Ali's concert in Mumbai announced cancellation of the event after Shiv Sena threatened to disrupt it, warning that no artiste from Pakistan will be allowed to perform in the city till terror emanating from across the border is stopped. 

They announced the decision following a meeting with Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray this evening at 'Matoshree', the Thackeray residence in suburban Bandra. 

"It (cultural exchange) is one of the most important elements. It should be encouraged," Basit said.

The decision to cancel the event was taken despite an assurance by Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis that adequate protection would be provided to Ali.

Minister of State for Home Ranjeet Patil had said that action would be taken against anybody who tried to take law into his or her own hands. "The organisers or the management of Shanmukhananda Hall (the venue) have not lodged complaint...once they do, action will be taken," he said.

In New Delhi, Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi voiced disagreement with Sena, saying, "This is not justified. Ghulam Ali is a messenger of peace. Such messengers of peace should not face restrictions of boundaries."

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