ISLAMABAD (AP) — Pakistani cinemas have stopped showing Indian films after India banned Pakistani actors from its movie industry amid soaring tensions between the two nuclear-armed rivals over Kashmir, cinema owners said Saturday.
Nadeem Mandviwala, who owns nearly a dozen cinemas in Karachi and Islamabad, said that he and other distributors have agreed to stop showing Indian films until relations improve. He said the ban is a private initiative.
The move came after the main association of Indian film producers and exhibitors adopted a resolution Thursday banning Pakistani actors from working on their films.
The latest tensions were sparked by a militant attack on an Indian army base in Kashmir that killed 18 Indian soldiers. Both countries claim the Himalayan territory, which is split between Indian and Pakistani-controlled zones.
Mandviwala said every year up to 80 Indian films are shown at Pakistani cinemas and earn millions from the Pakistani market.
But opinions on the ban are divided among Bollywood personalities.
A top Indian actor, Salman Khan, earlier told reporters in New Delhi that artists are not terrorists. These are two different subjects. "They come to our country after acquiring a visa, and it's our government who allows them with the work permit in our country," Khan said of Pakistani artists. He immediately won support from actor Om Puri and producer-director Shyam Benegal.
Their statements came after the Indian Motion Pictures' Artists Association adopted a resolution earlier this week demanding a ban on all Pakistani actors and technicians until the situation returned to normal.
Producer-director Pahlaj Nihalani and actor Anupam Kher supported the association's decision. They are well-known supporters of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party.
Earlier in the week, a Mumbai-based regional party, the Maharashtra Navnirman Samiti asked Pakistani actors and artists to leave India within 48 hours or be pushed out in the wake of the Kashmir attacks.
Associated Press writers Ashok Sharma in New Delhi, Riaz Khan in Peshawar and Zaheer Babar in Lahore, Pakistan contributed to this report.