As Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan waded into the controversy over Naseeruddin Shah’s remarks, comparing them to what Mohammad Ali Jinnah had once said, the acclaimed actor told him to stay away from “issues that don’t concern him”.
Speaking at a public function in Lahore, Khan drew a parallel between Shah’s remarks about feeling scared for his children because of the impunity of lawless mobs in India and what Jinnah had said about not wanting to live in an India where Muslims would not be equal citizens.
“I think Mr Khan should be walking the talk in his own country instead of commenting on issues that don’t concern him. We have been a democracy for 70 years and we know how to look after ourselves,” The Indian Express quoted him as saying.
In a video interview with Karwan-e-Mohabbat India, the veteran actor had said the death of a cow was being given importance over killing of a policeman in India.
He said the “poison has already spread” and it will be now difficult to contain it.
“It will be very difficult to capture this djinn back into the bottle again. There is complete impunity for those who take law into their own hands…I feel anxious for my children because tomorrow if a mob surrounds them and asks, ‘Are you a Hindu or a Muslim?’ they will have no answer. It worries me that I don’t see the situation improving anytime soon,” Shah added.
“I feel anxious for my children because tomorrow if a mob surrounds them and asks ‘Are you a Hindu or a Muslim?’, they will have no answer,” the actor had added.
Khan said the “lesson” Pakistan needed to draw from this was to ensure that “all people get equal rights, irrespective of their faith”. He cited “the famous speech by Qaid e Azam in 1948 where he said all Pakistanis would have equal rights” as also “the Constitution of Medina” where Prophet Mohammed promised Christians protection and safety. He added, “We have to prove in Pakistan that all minorities are equal citizens… Narendra Modi’s India must be shown how we treat minorities.”
Shah’s remarks have been met with protests, with some groups agitating outside the venue where he was supposed to deliver the keynote address at the fifth edition of a three-day literature festival in Ajmer. Raas Bihari Gaur, the coordinator of the festival, said, “Shah was scheduled to inaugurate the festival but he did not come because of protests by some locals.”
He was also scheduled to launch his book at the opening session, but this too was cancelled.
With several people pointing out that this had happened under a Congress government, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot tweeted on Saturday evening that what had happened was “unfortunate”.