The debate about the national culture of Pakistan is as old as the country itself, and has been debated in the press for a long time. Recently, the Supreme Court of Pakistan took up the matter while hearing an appeal filed by the Pakistan Electronic Media Authority (Pemra) against a high court decision against a ban on broadcasting on Indian content on Pakistani TV channels. The top court observed that it will not allow Indian content because it ‘damages our culture’. The question remains who has the right to decide what constitutes the national culture of Pakistan? To answer this question, we must first appreciate the meaning of culture. In plain and simple terms, culture is the sum total of a people’s lifestyle, and therefore, the only entity that has the right to decide what counts as national culture, and what is foreign is the people themselves. There is an additional question of differences among a people inhabiting a certain nation-state. Take the case of Pakistani nation which comprises multiple ethnic groups with their unique traditions, languages, and lifestyles that have, and will continue to, evolve with time. The culture of such a multi-ethnic nation can only be a composite entity arrived at as a result of debate and engagement among the various ethnic groups forming the nation. The forum for that debate is the Parliament, the press, and the street in the days leading up to elections. The spaces where there is absolutely no need for this debate to happen are courts, civil secretariats, or military garrisons. The institutions of a democratic state have no business dictating to the people what is and what is not a part of their culture. The state institutions exist to serve the people in accordance with their constitutional roles. The only institution empowered under the constitution to debate matters pertaining to national culture is the Parliament. If the people demand broadcast of Indian content on Pakistani TV channels, then the people must be able to watch the content. While the conservative right-wing and narrow-minded chauvinists in Pakistan, both in society and state institutions, tend to reduce our eastern neighbour just to the Hindutva right-wing, the reality on the other side of the border is far more complex. Like ourselves, our eastern neighbour is also a multi-ethnic and multi-religious society with various linguistic groups dotting its landscape. And there are many similarities in the lifestyles of common folk on both sides. The broadcast of Indian content on Pakistani channels poses no danger to our culture. On the contrary, it only goes off to show that we are a confident people who seek to embrace our similarities with our neighbours, and are not at all fearful of the differences. It also shows that our state institutions respect the people of Pakistan who are mature enough to know for themselves what nourishes, and what damages, their culture. * Published in Daily Times, January 10th 2019.