Mumbai, Jan 30: It is nothing less than a political harakiri for both Pakistani and Indian establishments, as they exchanged war of words over comments made by Bollywood superstar Shahrukh Khan in an article.
At the end of the day, it was Bollywood actor who walked away with the cake, as politicians of neighbouring countries wasted their whole day (Tuesday, Jan 29) over the remarks made in an article.
First it was Shahrukh Khan who penned his agony of "Being a Khan" in post 9/11. In a first person account titled "Being a Khan" for Outlook Turning Points magazine, published in association with The New York Times newspaper, the 47-year-old actor has poured out his agony to the readers.
"I sometimes become the inadvertent object of political leaders who choose to make me a symbol of all that they think is wrong and unpatriotic about Muslims in India. There have been occasions when I have been accused of bearing allegiance to our neighbouring nation (Pakistan) rather than my own country - this even though I am an Indian, whose father fought for the freedom of India. Rallies have been held where leaders have exhorted me to leave and return what they refer to my 'original' homeland," said Shahrukh.
"I gave my son and daughter names that could pass for generic (pan-India and pan-religious) ones - Aryan and Suhana. The Khan has been bequeathed by me so they can't really escape it. I pronounce it with my epiglottis when asked by Muslims and throw the Aryan as evidence of their race when non-Muslims enquire. I imagine this will prevent my offspring from receiving unwarranted eviction orders or random fatwas in the future," added the actor.
After the article came out, Indian and Pakistani politicians began their fight over the actor.
Taking advantage of the "reality" depicted by the actor in the article, Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, the head of Jama'at-ud-Da' asked Shahrukh to move to Pakistan. After Saeed, it was Pakistan's Interior Minister Rehman Malik who on Monday, Jan 28 said Indian government should provide the actor security.
"He (Shah Rukh) is born Indian and he would like to remain Indian, but I will request the government of India (to) please provide him security. I would like to request all Indian brothers and sisters and all those who are talking in a negative way about Shah Rukh, they should know he is a movie star," Malik said.
Noting that Shah Rukh is loved by the people of Pakistan and India, Malik said: "I am sure all those who are talking against him or are trying to threaten him, they will withdraw their threat with this hope that the stars are loved, the stars provide love and they are like a symbol of unity".
Indian authorities were quick to respond to Malik's allegations. Home Secretary RK Singh said India is quite capable of taking care of the security of its people.
Singh further asked Malik to look after the security of Pakistani citizens and not to worry about Shah Rukh Khan.
"We are capable of looking at the security of our own citizens. Let him (Rehman Malik) worry about his own," Singh said.
Stressing that Indian government treated all citizens equally, Information and Broadcasting minister Manish Tewari asked Malik to pay attention to the plight of minorities in his own country.
"...He(Malik) would be better served by bothering about the internal situation in Pakistan and really introspecting about the treatment of minorities in Pakistan and see as to what they can do as a state to improve the condition and the plight of their own minorities," Tewari said.
Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party said the minister's advice to India was "laughable".
At the end of the day, a visibly miffed Shahrukh said, "Nowhere does the article state or imply that I feel unsafe, troubled or disturbed in India... I would like to tell all those who are offering me unsolicited advice that we in India are extremely safe and happy."
The superstar added, "The reason for this primarily is....I think some of the people have not even read it and are reacting to comments of people, who in turn have also not read it. So I implore you all to first read it."