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Pakistan bans Feroz Khan over slur

May 19, 2006

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ISLAMABAD, May 18: Pakistan banned on Thursday veteran Indian actor Feroz Khan from returning to Pakistan after officials said he had insulted the country during a visit to promote a film.

Mr Khan had said Muslims were better off in India than in Pakistan at a show business function in Lahore last month to promote the Bollywood epic, Taj Mahal, produced and directed by his brother Akbar Khan.

“He abused our hospitality. He made derogatory remarks, which are unacceptable,” said Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Tasnim Aslam.

A senior official said President Gen Pervez Musharraf had personally ordered the ban.

Last month, Taj Mahal and a 1960s classic, Mughal-i-Azam, were screened in Pakistani cinemas after President Gen Musharraf granted special permission, relaxing a longstanding ban on Indian films.

Taj Mahal, which like Mughal-i-Azam harked back to a time when Muslims ruled the subcontinent, received a lukewarm response at the box office.—Reuters

Jawed Naqvi adds from New Delhi: Pakistan’s High Commission in New Delhi denied reports on Thursday of an advisory from Islamabad to deny visa to Feroz Khan.

“If there is such an advisory, it hasn’t reached us,” a spokesman for the high commission said.

Mr Khan’s excessively patriotic comments in Lahore recently hurt many Pakistanis but won him praise from India’s Hindu revivalist Bharatiya Janata Party. He made headlines when he voiced some anti-Pakistan comments and reportedly got into an altercation with some people in Lahore.

On his part, Akbar Khan is furious with BJP leader Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi for trying to “extract political mileage” from his brother’s statements.

“The kind of reception that we’ve got in Pakistan for the premiere and release of ‘Taj Mahal’ has been overwhelming. At the airport, we were received personally by the culture minister,” he told Mumbai’s DNA newspaper.

“We are extremely jubilant. Mahesh Bhatt, Shatrughan Sinha and I are very sure that soon we will have a co-production and we’ll be releasing more films in Pakistan. “Unfortunately, Mr Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi is spoiling things for us by making irresponsible statements regarding my brother. He says that my brother is ‘a true nationalist’ because of the statements he made in Pakistan.

“Naqvi is neither a Muslim, Hindu, Indian nor a nationalist. He is diabolical. He is trying to give a political and communal interpretation to what my brother said in the heat of the moment,” Akbar Khan told DNA.