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Parties need to move beyond anti-Pak rhetoric

On Tuesday afternoon, a group of Shiv Sena workers disrupted a press conference of the launch of an Indian and Pakistan music band being held at Mumbai’s Press Club. The workers were carrying party flags and stormed the meet, shouting slogans against Pakistan and Pakistani artistes. The Press Club resounded to shouts of ‘Pakistan Murdabad’.

The band had two musicians from Pakistan — guitarist Mekaal Hasan and flautist Muhammad Ahsan Papu — and three Indian artistes — drummer Gino Banks, bass player Sheldon D’Silva and vocalist Sharmistha Chatterjee.

A Shiv Sena spokesperson said they protested because Pakistan is responsible for beheading our soldiers and indulging in terror. They then come here to make money, and the party will not tolerate this, said the Sena representative.

With this attack, Shiv Sena has shown that it is sticking to its anti-Pak stand which drew eyeballs years ago, when activists dug up a cricket pitch at Wankhede, when an Indo-Pak match was to be held.

There is little doubt that feelings towards Pak hardened after 26/11 and several gains made during the pre-terror attack days were washed away once 26/11 happened. Yet, political parties like the Shiv Sena and others included, now need to move beyond the anti-Pak rhetoric and bashing to do something more constructive. If they are worried about our soldiers, how about putting in concerted efforts to see that war veterans receive their pensions and other benefits without having to run from pillar to post?

Parties can also channelise energies into doing something to see that more young persons especially from the city, look at the forces as an attractive career option.

Yet another way to show concern for our soldiers and others in uniform who die so that we may live is to do something for the wounded veterans. There are several organisations set up by former soldiers who have been wounded in war and left disabled. Parties could look towards helping them.

One knows that in the election year, protests and sloganeering will garner attention. Yet, the Shiv Sena could use the ‘anti-Pak, no Pak artistes on Indian soil’ ideology in more productive ways. Even holding one concert by top Indian artistes with all proceeds going to former soldiers, will be a great way to march ahead.

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