Anupam Kher denied Pak visa for literary festival
New Delhi : Non-issuance of a visa by the Pakistani government has led to the cancellation of actor Anupam Kher’s participation in the Karachi literary festival starting February 5.
Kher was one of the 18 Indians invited to the four-day festival by the organisers but he is the only one whose visa has not been cleared. The other 17 Indian participants have been given visas.
Kher, who has just been honoured with Padma Bhushan by the Indian government, was to participate in at least two sessions and his name figured prominently in the festival schedule.
Confirming that he has not been issued a visa, Kher told PTI here today that he was very saddened by the development as he was looking forward to participate in the festival and use the platform to dispel misunderstandings in the minds of people there.
“We welcome their artistes in India. If there are objections to their performance at one place in India they are welcome at other places. But there is no reciprocity,” he said.
As to why his visa has not been issued, Kher said, “I wish I knew. I am wondering if it is because I am a Kashmiri Pandit or because of my views on the tolerance debate in India.”
Kher said the visa denial has left the festival organisers embarrassed and they have apologised to him.
Festival co-founder Ameena Saiyed said they were not given any reason behind the visa denial.
“He has not been issued a visa. Well, I haven’t been given the reasons. My own thinking is, it’s probably because of the statements he has been making in India for past couple of weeks,” SaIyed said.
While accepting that literature and politics cannot be separated, SaIyed felt the Bollywood star’s presence would have given the Karachi audience a different perspective.
“WE had organised an exclusive session of him with Ashok Chopra with a very large audience. People would have asked him questions about his views. He would have had a chance to talk to them, to engage with them, to answer their questions and in the process some understanding would have developed,” she told a news channel.