BJP MP Yogi Adityanath was upset with film actor Shah Rukh Khan because he found that Khan “spoke like Hafiz Saeed” when beefing about intolerance in India. Then BJP leader Kailash Vijayvargiya thoughtfully suggested that he should migrate to Pakistan, upon which Hafiz Saeed, whose statements are under a media gag order in Pakistan, tweeted to welcome Khan to Pakistan.
Of course, Khan should shift to Pakistan. When Hafiz Saeed invites, you’d better listen, given his outreach. Karachi is like Mumbai in its climate. Also like Mumbai, it is the business hub and cash cow of Pakistan. People here are cosmopolitan, unlike Lahore, which is still somewhat rustic. Most Pakistanis love Khan because of the films he has acted in. He will be a celebrity in Karachi. But there are some minor rituals of settlement he will have to go through, which should be no problem at all.
First, he will have to indicate in his new passport that he is a Muslim. This is useful because doing so will secure him against much mischief. The entry is important, because if he doesn’t declare his Muslim faith, he can get into trouble. While declaring what he is, he will also have to indicate what he is not. For instance, he will have to curse the “false prophet” of the Ahmadi community that has forcibly been made non-Muslim by the constitution of Pakistan. No need to feel vomit-y about this; we all make this declaration and don’t feel embarrassed in the company of our Ahmadi friends.
Then there is this minor detail. It is about his family. Is he married to a Muslim or a Hindu? If the wife is Hindu, what status has been given to the children? Of course, the names can be easily changed. Abdur Rehman and Abdullah are blessed as favourite Muslim names. If the wife is not yet a Muslim though, there will be difficulties from
Khan’s marriage. If the wife is not from the People of the Book, she has to be converted, preferably by Hafiz Saeed, given his divine authority.
They say Khan is second only to Amitabh Bachchan in wealth. That is a blessed condition because charity, called zakat, becomes compulsory for him after that, to prepare him for high status in paradise, which will have lots of pretty virgins to disport with. There is, however, a minor glitch here. Any charity set up with zakat will not be permitted to help non-Muslims, especially Hindus, quite a few of whom inhabit Karachi despite laudable efforts at conversion or migration.
There are other minor obstacles that Khan will of course overcome quickly, given his popularity in Pakistan. He will recall that he has made a number of films in which he has acted as a Hindu icon, a king putting non-Hindus to the sword, or a commando of the Indian army, killing Pakistani mujahideen and, still worse, seducing Muslim girls. In one especially despicable film, he even crosses the border illegally and comes to Lahore in pursuit of a Muslim beauty. This will be compensated by making good Pakistani films showing him piously massacring Hindus
after entering Kashmir with fellow mujahideen. A Taliban beard (no mustache!) will look good on him.
There are also a few helpful details about Karachi that Khan will have to pay heed to. Pakistan is manfully fighting the curse of a vast underworld of extortionists in the megacity. Of course, we will soon clean up the mess, but it is useful to know that the political parties short of funds are heavily into bhatta (extortion)-taking (not yet in vogue in India?), which they share with over 15 terrorist outfits, formerly known as proxy warriors. Kidnapping of two types is rampant — one that takes the victim to the highlands of Waziristan, and the other that takes the victim round and round in Karachi till you cough up the money. Khan and his family will be looked after by Hafiz Saeed, no doubt, so only the second type of brief kidnapping may be faced by them now and then.
Khan will doubtlessly revive the Pakistani film industry, which has hit a long trough after General Zia-ul-Haq’s pious decade in the 1980s. I have no doubt he will appreciate that he can’t be cavorting around in them with half-naked heroines, the way he does in vulgar India. Pakistanis, who flock to cinemas to see his films, turn their faces away when such love scenes come on. I hear Indian filmgoers, too, will soon observe such pieties.
If you are as great as Khan, what about politics? I would suggest: Set up a political party, like Imran Khan, and call for an end to corruption while looking deferentially in the direction of Hafiz Saeed and that other humanitarian saint, Dawood Ibrahim. The only hitch I can see in Shah Rukh is that he is too soft-spoken. That will not do. He will have to thunder defamations like Imran if he wants to get in the good books of the masses.
The writer is consulting editor, ‘Newsweek Pakistan’