Pakistan High Commissioner to India Abdul Bashit on Wednesday personally telephoned actor Anupam Kher over the controversy surrounding reports that Kher had been denied a visa to that country, saying he was a great artiste and was welcome to visit Pakistan.
Kher took to Twitter to express his appreciation, but said he would not be able to visit the country as he has “given away those dates now.”
Kher had on Tuesday claimed that he had been denied a visa by the Pakistan government to attend the Karachi literary festival.
@AnupamPkher you are always welcome Sir. You are a great artiste; we respect and admire you
— Abdul Basit (@abasitpak1) February 3, 2016
Kher said the decision may have been influenced by his stand on the issue of Kashmiri Pandits and his support for Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The actor was one of the 18 Indians invited to the four-day event starting Friday. All the others, including Congress leader Salman Khurshid and actor Nandita Das, were granted visas.
“I am not angry. I am hurt, upset and somewhere wanting to know the reason. Out of 18, why was I singled out. It could either be because I am a Kashmiri Pandit…or because I’ve spoken about the issue of intolerance, taken a stand and have applauded my PM. Otherwise, there is no logical reason why the visa was denied to me. This has happened for the third time,” Kher told reporters in Mumbai.
But the Pakistan High Commission spokesperson said in New Delhi that Kher had never submitted his visa application. “We can only issue a visa after we get an application,” said the spokesperson.
Ameena Syed, spokesperson for the Karachi event, had told PTI that they had been advised by the Pakistan High Commission in Delhi to tell Kher not to submit his application as he would not be issued a visa.
Kher called the Pakistan High Commission’s assertion a “lie”, saying that country’s interior ministry did not send clearance for his visa.
PTI quoted Pakistan government sources as saying that since Kher is vocal on social media on sensitive issues pertaining to religion and Indo-Pak relations, he was not asked to submit his application.
(With PTI inputs)