Today's Paper

Pak theatre group here with message of peace

Parul Sharma

NEW DELHI: Being the first theatre group from Pakistan to perform in India about 20 years back, Lahore-based Ajoka Theatre is keen to diffuse the unease and distrust between the two neighbouring countries following the Mumbai terror attacks last month.

“It is our small attempt to help and diffuse the tension. We can’t afford all this tension, this war hysteria. Peace activists and artists like us have worked very hard to build this peace process. It is heartbreaking to imagine that it may get derailed,” said Madeeha Gauhar, well-known Pakistani theatre actor and Artistic Director of Ajoka Theatre.

Ms. Gauhar and her 22-member troupe, including three Indians, have been invited by the Sangeet Natak Academy, Kerala, to participate in an international theatre festival.

The group, which will perform its popular play “Bullah” at the festival, was hosted by the activists of the Students’ Federation of India-All India Students’ Federation at Jawaharlal Nehru University here on Tuesday.

The Ajoka Theatre troupe performed a Sufi “qawwali” and extracts from its play on the JNU campus on Tuesday evening.

“We are here to bring the message of the great Sufi poet Bulleh Shah that is extremely relevant in today’s turbulent times. His message was on humanism, peace, love, tolerance and looking beyond religious divide,” said Ms. Gauhar.


The theatre personality said there was a lot of apprehension from different quarters in Pakistan when her troupe decided to visit India in the wake of heightened tension between the two countries.

“When the Indian cricket team’s Pakistan tour was called off, there was a lot of negative reaction in our country.

It was very disappointing. Cricket diplomacy had generated a lot of goodwill. People questioned us why we were going to India. But there have to be some voices of sanity in these insane times,” she maintained.

Ms. Gauhar also blamed the media for creating “war hysteria”.

She said the commoners in Pakistan condemned the terror attacks in Mumbai.

“People came out in open to condemn those terror strikes. There were peace marches and human chains in Karachi and Lahore in solidarity with the Mumbai victims. We must remember that Pakistan is a bigger victim of terrorism than India,” the actor said.

“The democratic government in Pakistan will be destabilised if India adopts a tough stance and that will hurt Pakistan as well as India. The two countries have to fight terrorism together. War is not an alternative. We have to open up the dialogue as soon as possible,” Ms. Gauhar concluded.

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