ANUPAM Kher
ANUPAM Kher

KARACHI: Bollywood veteran Anupam Kher said on Tuesday he had been denied visa for Pakistan, where he was invited to participate in the Karachi Literature Festival (KLF) beginning on Feb 5, because the “Pakistan interior ministry did not issue a no-objection certificate” for his visa.

Following a vitriol on Twitter against the alleged visa denial, Kher also addressed a special press conference later in the day, where he read out his correspondence with the KLF organisers in Pakistan.

The actor said KLF organisers had shared details of invitees from India with the Pakistan High Commission in Delhi, and he was told to wait for “an all-clearance certificate” to be issued by “Pakistan’s home ministry” after which his visa would be stamped in Delhi.

Kher claimed 17 others from India received visas from the Pakistan High Commission in Delhi “without directly applying” after they were granted a clearance by the interior ministry.

Pakistan High Commissioner in India Abdul Basit, however, said Kher’s visa application had not been rejected. “He never submitted his visa documents so the question of denial doesn’t arise.”

When contacted, Oxford University Press (OUP) Managing Director in Pakistan, Ameena Saiyid — who is a key member of the KLF organising committee — confirmed that a list of invitees from India was sent to the interior ministry. “We were told an NOC would need to be issued before any visas were approved.”

Saiyid says the invitees were told by the commission in Delhi that their “visa applications would not be received until the NOC came through”.

However, Saiyid claims she was eventually told by the High Commission in Delhi that Kher should not submit his papers as he would not be granted a visa.

“I don’t know whether this has to do with an NOC or not. When he wanted to submit his papers they told him not to apply.”

But an official from the interior ministry told Dawn.com that there was “no objection in the issuance of visa to the Indian actor”. He said the Pakistan High Commission in India is “responsible for issuing a visa to anyone interested in visiting Pakistan”.

Kher was one of several luminaries from India, including director/actor Nandita Das, transgender rights activist Laxmi Tripathi and Indian journalist Barkha Dutt, scheduled to speak at the KLF this weekend.

While Nandita Das has received her visa and will be attending, Kher is off the agenda.

Published in Dawn, February 3rd, 2016

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