The government of Pakistan has launched a crackdown on the sale of Indian movies and has banned airing of commercials of Indian products to express solidarity with the people of Kashmir. The news was broken by Firdous Ashiq Awan, the Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information, who told Dawn News that the crackdown had been initiated by the interior ministry in Islamabad and it would be expanded to other parts of the country soon. This crackdown is accompanied by action by the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra), which circulated a letter on Wednesday announcing that it had withdrawn permission for airing Indian channels and content on the Supreme Court’s directive and stated that it has taken it a step further by banning advertisements of products produced in India as well.

Principally, without context, the banning of art in any way or form has never been good for the progress of civilisation, nor has it ever really been successful in stifling cultural exchange or creativity. Yet this decision of the government, to ban Indian media, should not be seen as enforcing barriers on artistic exchange or preventing cultural diversity. Instead, this decision by the government should be seen in light of a humanitarian boycott- by banning Indian media and channels, our government is following a peaceful and conscientious stance against another oppressive state, which is actively supressing and depriving human rights of a group of people. It should also be noted that India has banned Pakistani media first- but without any conscientious objector justification.

Pakistan has made clear its preference for peace. After taking our case to the UNSC and being successful in calling an emergency meeting, the boycott of Indian products, depriving India of a very vital market and hitting them at their economy, is the most peaceful avenue Pakistan could register its protest.

Nevertheless, if the government is keen on boycotting India, it should then initiate a movement similar to the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement that aims to end international support for Israel’s oppression of Palestinians. It is time for the Pakistani state to start thinking more innovatively about building international pressure on India to reverse the revocation of Articles 370 and 35 A of her constitution. Confiscating movies’ CDs or banning advertisements on TV screens is one way to answer India’s belligerence- yet it has not always proved the most effective.