Singers Rekha Bhardwaj and Harshdeep Kaur have withdrawn their names from Shaan-e-Pakistan 2019 gala in Lahore next month in the wake of the Pulwama suicide bombing that killed 49 troopers.

Rekha, well known for her versatile tracks like Genda Phool, Kabira and Ghagra, was a star attraction at the gala, where Indian and Pakistani talent would have shared the stage for a musical summit and awards night on March 21 and March 22.

“I cancelled our show to Pakistan immediately after the Pulwama attack,” Rekha, who was due to travel with her team, told news agency IANS.

Harshdeep, who has sung melodious numbers like Heer and Dilbaro, confirmed to IANS that she will also not be a part of the event in Lahore.

Nevertheless, the show, where Pakistan’s Javed Bashir will be producer and director of music, will go on.

“We have no news on Rekha ji and Harshdeep Kaur,” Rehan Babar of Aden Rehan PR and Management Solutions, official PR Partners of the event, told IANS from Lahore when asked if they will be going ahead with the event.

“‘Shaan-e-Pakistan’ is about promoting fashion, music, art and culture and bringing Pakistan and India together on these platforms. It has nothing to do with politics and everything to do with promoting peace and love through art and culture. Regardless of the current political tensions, Shaan-e-Pakistan is still very much going ahead and on course to take place on March 21 and 22,” Babar added.

Actor Ali Fazal, who was scheduled to take part in Urdu event Jashn-E-Rekhta in Dubai, also stepped out. He was invited to talk about the use and promotion of Urdu language in Hindi films at the 5th edition of the popular event. However, owing to the recent attacks in Pulwama, Ali decided to pull off from the event to show his solidarity towards the Indian martyrs. He released a statement: “I lieu of the attacks and the sad state of affairs in Kashmir, my heart goes to every family of the jawans.ui have already called out for help whoever is out there, to not just pray and look for a better time but to be able to help the family of those jawans who lost their lives in this terrible attack. And of course to not be part of this event, at least not in this time because our country is in mourning.”

The February 14 terror attack has had a direct impact on cultural ties between India and Pakistan.

While the Federation of Western India Cine Employees (FWICE) has announced a diktat saying Indian filmmakers must not release their films in Pakistan and that no collaboration with Pakistani talent must be pursued, veteran actress Shabana Azmi and her lyricist-writer husband Javed Akhtar axed their visit to Karachi to take part in centenary celebrations of Shabana’s poet-father Kaifi Azmi.

Bollywood film Total Dhamaal will also not release in Pakistan.

In fact, Rekha’s multi-faceted husband and filmmaker Vishal Bhardwaj was also planning travel to Pakistan for research on the Netflix series “Midnight’s Children”, based on Salman Rushdie’s novel. However, as of now the plan of the web series’ showrunner stands cancelled, said a source in the know.

(With inputs from IANS)