Rahat Fateh Ali Khan deported: Is India sincere about improving Indo-Pak ties?

Published: January 1, 2016

This file photo taken on February 17, 2011 shows Pakistani Qawwali singer Rahat Fateh Ali. PHOTO: FILE

Rahat Fateh Ali Khan faced a complaint from concert organisers in India after he had to cancel a show. 
PHOTO: FILE This file photo taken on February 17, 2011 shows Pakistani Qawwali singer Rahat Fateh Ali.

Ustad Rahat Fateh Ali Khan (RFAK) is by far my favourite singer mainly because his bewitching and melodious voice keeps me under a spell whenever I listen to him. The man is surely gifted and there is definitely some magic in his voice which keeps one enchanted. Just recently, a Pakistani friend introduced me to yet another masterpiece of the legendary singer, Tere Bina Jeena Nahi Ve Soniya from the Pakistani movie Bin Roye, which yet again proved that RFAK has reserved his best for his own country. Notably, the song is my phone’s ringtones, adding to my never-ending list of his classic opuses on my phone.

I am not the only fan though, there are millions of Indians who, I believe, feel the same about RFAK. The amount of love he receives during his visits to India is testament to that.

Therefore, I was shocked and deeply hurt to know that RFAK was denied entry to and deported from Hyderabad on Thursday morning where he was invited to perform at a New Year’s Eve event at Taj Falaknuma Palace. RFAK’s deportation was attributed to ‘technical flaws’ in his travel papers by immigration officials as according to ‘rules’, Pakistani nationals cannot enter India through Hyderabad; the legal ports of entry by air are Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai.

So RFAK was first deported to Abu Dhabi from where he took a flight to Delhi on Thursday evening. In order to ensure he did not miss the event, he at once boarded a chartered flight to Hyderabad from the national capital. Phew!

Was it necessary to subject the noted Pakistani singer to such a shabby treatment?

This comes days after Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi’s surprise stopover in Lahore. We are told while having his breakfast in Kabul, Modi had a sudden brainstorm of setting his foot for the first time on the soil of Pakistan. He immediately expressed his desire in this regard with his Pakistani counterpart who pulled out all the stops to welcome the Indian premier in his country. In this manner, Modi’s tour de force was made possible with Pakistan allowing 120 Indians in their country on a very short notice. A TV reporter in Lahore was dumbfounded that this happened. “Tauba Tauba”, he repeated multiple times.

Now imagine what would have been our reaction if Pakistanis had insisted on following ‘rules’ and denied entry to Indians on ‘technical grounds’. All hell would have broken loose (duh), even though trust and respect is a two-way process.

During his meeting with Nawaz Sharif in Lahore, Modi reportedly asked him,

“Why can’t we be like leaders in Europe, who meet each other for casual get-togethers and chats?”

That was a nice thing to say PM Modi, but can we first cleanse our hearts?

For, if we kept subjecting eminent Pakistani singers and artists to the kind of treatment meted out to RFAK and Ghulam Ali – whose shows have been cancelled of late owing to threats from Shiv Sena – how would this become a reality? The leaders can meet whenever and wherever they want, but what about the common man who does not enjoy this luxury? If Pakistanis can bend the rules for Indians, why can’t we reciprocate their gestures?

RFAK is not a terrorist and gunrunner. He is a great artist and artists know no boundaries. Truculent bureaucrats, who have their own axe to grind, must not be allowed to sabotage people to people relations between India and Pakistan.

Merely blabbering that our countries should be reunited is not enough. What we truly need is the reunification of the hearts that have been torn apart. The people who once lived cheek-by-jowl should be allowed to meet and visit each other’s countries without any unwarranted bureaucratic hindrance and inconvenience.

Let the new generation shake hands.

Sapan Kapoor

Sapan Kapoor

A history buff and India-based journalist, the author has worked with the Press Trust of India. He blogs at sehar-anawakening.blogspot.in/ and tweets as @dRaconteur.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Insanely Atheist

    An apologist author who keeps on looking for excuses to feel victimized in every article.
    First of all only 11 persons out of 120 from Modi’s entourage were provided visa,secondly no matter how popular the celebrity is, he can not be compared to top level diplomats who enjoy special treatments throughout the world.
    Most importantly every country has specified point of entries that require its own resources to run efficiently.Instead of crying foul and exploiting celebrity status just follow the clearly defined rules.
    Author is acting like those people who instead of using designated crossings just jump off the dividers to avoid walking few extra steps.Recommend

  • Chopra TP

    “Was it necessary to subject the noted Pakistani singer to such a shabby treatment?”

    Sapan Kapoor, India is not a Banana Republic that rules can be broken arbitrarily for the Pakistanis you like. This kind of thinking of Jugad and do as you please while applying the laws & regulations is why India suffers from so many issues. Everyone should be treated according to rules, not your dreams. Plus Rahat Fateh has a habit of breaking the law. He was caught illegally smuggling/laundering large amounts of cash from India earlier too. Ayan ali in Pakistan was in Jail for the exact same crime not that long ago. Stop the artificial outrage and tell Rahat to follow the law.Recommend

  • SuperNeo™

    i dont know what your back ground and knowledge about Immigration laws. let me tell you India has very sticker laws for pak nationals , RFK broke the law and paid the price, noting unusual about it.
    Pak nationals are treated far worst way than in india because of their habbits of creating problems in other countries. they are Number one deported nationals from all over the world , so did nothing unusual , Recommend

  • NHA

    Ustad Rahat Fateh Ali Khan is a pride for Pakistan. This is not first time he has faced rebuke at the hands of Indian immigration and security authorities.If I were him, I will declare for all time to come that that was my last time .

    Hindu mind has not accepted Muslim in general & Pakistani in particular. It is not far that India will repent its folly . Pak started with scratch & now Inshallah it is a ” Medium Power’ & soon it will have its own glaxy of friends.

    Rahat people are waiting to hear you here.Recommend

  • Vinod

    What has this got to do with religion, he will be deported even if he was Hindu.Recommend

  • Question

    Thank you quaid e azam for giving us a country where visa and currency rules are merely suggestions. Not like India where they have rules and the height of it, they follow rules. Tauba tauba.Recommend

  • whatever

    it seems rule-breaking author is suggesting rules should be bend for VIPs. If there is a rule why it should not be followed strictly. south asians are backward due to these Raj era type of mentality where VIP is bigger than any law and order.Recommend

  • Swaadhin

    People like Sapan Kapoor tend to wait with great unrest for any opportunity where in their intellect makes them believe India has gone wrong and would not waste a single nano second to pen their thoughts and publish it as a blog.

    When you see even people with such tendencies are getting to publish blogs after such a long time, it is either because India is not giving Sapan enough opportunities or his way of writing is falling short of what is expected from his publishers.Recommend

  • Saad


  • Enkay

    1. Sapan Kapoor : You seem to be unaware that Pakistan Deported Dean Jones due to irregularity or non compliance with Rules. Same goes for Ustad Rahat Fateh Ali Khan.

    2. NHA : Pakistan was created for Indian Muslims. India today hosts about 180 Million Muslims as its Citizens in India. Why can’t Pakistan Muslims stay in Pakistan. Why do they need to go to India when the hate India in General and Hindus, Sikhs and Jains so much?Recommend

  • Sam

    these are the laws of india and there is no exception granted in those laws.he was allowed to enter India when he followed the laws.India is not Pakistan where different laws exists for different peopleRecommend

  • neil

    Hindu mind has not accepted muslims? Lol muslims have been our indian army officers and president. Also “muslim ADNAN Sami “has been granted indian citizenship on his repeated requests to indian govt.. In india pakistanis can only enter through four airport.. delhi,Mumbai, chennai, Kolkata.. You can’t just fly from Dubai and land hyderabad airport, it’s breaking law, he is habitual offender last time he was carrying lakhs worth dollars voilating Foriegn currency laws, and not even filling form informing about it.. This is india not Pakistan follow immigration laws. We even deported hollywood actor Orlando bloom for visa issues.. Then who is rahet? If you follow laws when u visit a country, u won’t be frisked by immigration authorities. SimpleRecommend

  • Concard

    I am surprised this blogger is taken seriously by ET lol. Maybe they like his point of view.Recommend

  • Harris

    Simple law of Hindustan: Relegate the status of Muslims and lower caste Hindus to second grade citizens. India has been Modi-fied to racist HindustanRecommend

  • Gautam

    Here is the Source, ‘Pakistanis are the most deported people in the world’


    However, should you have any doubts, please do not hesitate to visit any airport if you wish to experience the embarrassment personally.Recommend

  • basil

    Enkay, why do Indian hindus like Mahesh Bhatt,Pooja Bhatt, JIndal, Om Puri stay in India when its a known fact that Pakistanis hate hindus like you claimed?Recommend

  • SuperNeo™

    source of what ?Recommend

  • SuperNeo™

    Shsssh .. they are NOT allowed to see reality in mirror , staying in sate of disillusion is National policy.Recommend

  • siesmann

    Shameful.If artists,intellectuals,Human rights operatives etc are going to be treated this way,there is not a hope for normal relations between two countries.Recommend

  • SafeNation

    NHA, did you miss the news that another Pakistani singer, Adnan Sami, was awarded Indian Citizenship, ironically effective as of today, January 1, 2016?Recommend

  • Patwari

    Maybe he will fly to Fiji with his wings.
    Like Modi said, hindus flew to Fiji Islands, West Indies
    Andaman Island, Malaysia 5000 years ago.
    And invented plastic surgery, too. 7000 ears ago!Recommend

  • Patwari

    It GOT everything to do with religion. He is a Muslim.
    If he was Nepali, Bhutani, Burmese, Thai, Taiwanese,
    Korean, it would be a different story. You follow?Recommend

  • Patwari

    Look, learn to read and write correct English, first. Then comment.
    Your father, grandfather, great grandfather lived under the Raj.
    You follow?Recommend

  • Allah Hafiz

    These psuedo sickulars of India dont care about any rules….You should keep in mind..its dangerous for india if some specific kind of arab dna’s enter in india via any route….this can create a mess…..we have some rules and they will have to follow them…same was case with orlando bloom..he was sent back..than who is this rahat…Recommend

  • Allah Hafiz

    Source…Just search for Bradford pakistani gangs..what kind of charity work they do..and we cant take chances…you musr understand…its related to the security of our civilian population….meanwhile am writing..there;s already a terrorist attack in punjab where terrorist were from paki bhawalpur…you must understand and follow rules if u wanna come here..although i know given chance…many of u might come here and in western countries and than never leave…so samjhaa karoo..Recommend

  • Faulitics

    Looks like Sapan Kapoor wants separate laws for Pakistani Elites who visit india. If India does not disobey its own laws for pakistani visitors, then india is “insincere”. Nice Logic. Recommend

  • Anannya

    Remember Orlando Bloom? It was just a week ago and he was deported in a similar fashion. it is not because RFAK is a Pakistani. It is because he didn’t follow the rule.

  • Sudhanshu Swami

    Are you comparing PM of a nation with a normal citizen and that too was caught more than once for breaking law, earlier while carrying undeclared money ? He was deported as per law. It has nothing to do with govt. Officers take decision as per law, they wont call PM modi or Sushma swaraj for daily routine tasks. This comparison is like that we complain why Shahrukh khan was stopped in USA airport, while we welcome Obama with whole heart, we dont check Obama’s bags and clothes !Recommend

  • Sudhanshu Swami

    Ya your one of pride Adnan Sami is India Citizen now. Nothing to complain since Dina wadia to Sonya jehan and Sami.Recommend

  • Adnan Siddiqi

    And this is the guy who is completely morally bankrupt and devoid of any shame. In 2011 he made a lot of hue and cry over the treatment he got at Mumbai Airport carrying undeclared cash and was detained by Indian Customs for a day. In August of 2015 he declared that despite all the problems he faced in 2011, he will still continue to visit India (http://tribune.com.pk/story/935401/i-will-keep-visiting-india-like-before-rahat-fateh-ali-khan/).

    Rahat Fateh Ali Khan deserves this comeuppance. I guess it’s OK to sacrifice your dignity for a few thousand $$$.Recommend

  • Spock

    Wow, i am amazed at the ignorance of the writer. Did he expect the visa officer or constable to show good gesture and let Rahat Ali through? Can they work with desecration?
    He should be happy that poor officers have fulfilled their duty despite a celeb breathing down their necks.

    Rahat ali has no regards for rules of any country, first he was caught red handed with illegal cash, then it turned out that he is not even tax payer and now despite of almost living in India he shows ignorance of the rules. In any other country he would be blacklisted by now.

    Orlando bloom was deported from Indian airport, Dean Jones was deported from islamabad airport due to technical issues. I didnt see writer making fuss about it.

    Also educate yourself, heads of state do not need visas, and especially if they are invited. Have you ever seen obama, nawaz etc standing in line to get their passports stamped, have you ever see them going through visa process after then land in country?
    Stop this yellow journalism and start soething realRecommend

  • ajeet

    Hindus or any religion would never accept foreigners coming and,occupying our land. Once Arabs move to Arabia from Pakistan and Afghanistan, there will be peace.Recommend

  • abhi

    Very pathetic blog. You can ask for chaning the rule, but if the rule is there it has to be followed. We don’t want any VIP treatment.Recommend

  • Rajiv

    Why he wanted to come to India in the first place?
    If there is one fan of him here there are ten who don’t want him.Recommend

  • Rajiv

    Why Muslims want to come to India? Didn’t they got their own country in 1947?Recommend

  • Grapes are sour!

    This author cannot be taken seriously whose anti-India tirades are published in Pakistani media for propaganda purpose. He is irrelevant and virtually unknown in Indian media circles; that’s also one reason why he tries hard to profile himself with his anti-India diatribes in the media of a country whose anti-India agenda is well known. Good luck, Express Tribune.Recommend

  • Raj Rao

    What this author would have done, if he was a normal customs employee. That Custom employee would have been suspended, pending enquiry, if he had flouted rules. Even If I was the normal employee, I would have followed rules. Who wants to take the headache to support some singer who is unknown to me or in the name of Pak-India relationship…Recommend

  • Kadwa Sach

    Reading your baseless and illogical comment – you should not bring in religion because others can also talk about your “peaceful religion” which you will not like – I think you ought to know that India has created specific visa laws for Pakistani nationals who have to comply if they want to visit India. If they do not, they are at liberty not to visit India. Pakistani nationals, incidentally, face much harsher visa laws in other countries. Have you tried getting a U.S. visa or, for that matter, see how you are treated when you arrive in a Muslim country such as UAE, Saudi Arabia, etc? The green passport holder is seen as nothing but trouble, an eyesore. Please stay away from India just as Indians stay away from Pakistan.Recommend

  • samarth vajpeyi

    Although this archaic rule did caused some inconvenience to RFAK , but i am sure immigration officials do not hold any personal vendetta against either him or Pakistan , rules are rules and no one is above the law . All we can hope for is that , government will do away with this rule as fast as possible.Recommend

  • Jor El

    “If he was Nepali, Bhutani, Burmese, Thai, Taiwanese,
    Korean, it would be a different story.”
    U r right … people belonging to these nationalities can enter india from the airports/seaports designated to them …
    “It GOT everything to do with religion. He is a Muslim.”
    U r wrong … People from Hyderabad fly to the gulf n back all the time sans any hassles … Recommend

  • Jor El

    “If I were him …”
    If u were him, u wud be performing at a concert somewhere, rather than being a keyboard warrior …Recommend

  • Jor El

    “…their intellect makes them believe India has gone wrong …”
    Excuse me, where has India gone wrong here ???Recommend

  • Jor El

    Lower caste hindus??? u mean like modi ???Recommend

  • Jor El

    thats not the argument here, who wanted him n who ddnt … the issue is whether or not RFAK shud have been deported or not …Recommend

  • sandeep

    bhatt is a muslim,his mother is a muslim and he even follows islam in many ways..also he has pakistani connections..thats why tries to bring pak-india closer.he dsnt go their for money like the way you pakistanis do. om puri visit was a goodwill gesture..who was invited to film festival and he cudnt deny.no one is really going there to earn money..like say ghulam ali..or how ur cricket players are dying to come to india for ipl.please lets just stop all these..there is no need for all this.its a waste.Recommend

  • sandeep

    bhatt is a muslim,his mother is a muslim and he even follows islam in many ways..also he has pakistani connections..thats why tries to bring pak-india closer.he dsnt go their for money like the way you pakistanisdo. om puri visit was a goodwill gesture..who was invited to film festival and he cudnt deny. no one is really going there to earn money..like say ghulam ali..or how ur cricket players are dying to come to india for ipl.please lets just stop all these. complete divorce is better for both of usRecommend

  • Easy Peasy

    A professional singer is not a Prime Minister. You are getting carried away, relax and come back down to earth.Recommend

  • IndianDude

    Rahat khan broke rules, he is not an Indian citizen, he should be deported.
    Unless the author thinks that a Pakistani citizen has a special rights in India.Recommend

  • wb

    Bending the rules for one man, because he’s famous. Is that what you’re suggesting?

    So, this man is clearly promoting VIP culture.

    Next time he will ask, should we really check the tax returns of Sonia Gandhi or Rahul Gandhi, after all they’re our national leaders?

    Then he will ask? Should we really pursue a legal case against Salman Khan for killing innocent people? Surely, Salman Khan is a huge celebrity. Why not just trust him and let him go?

    Then he will ask, what’s wrong if a plane or a train is delayed by a few hours waiting for a Secretary or an Under Secretary? They’re well known people, why not bother thousands of passengers for a couple?

    Shameful to read. Even nauseating.Recommend

  • ajeet

    Lower caste Hindus are still Hindus, but the other group is descendants of barbaric invaders.Recommend

  • ajeet

    Its better than djinns generating electricity.Recommend

  • SK

    Mr. Kapoor, we just don’t get your point. Do you mean to suggest that the Indian immigration officials should be given two sets of rules- one for ordinary citizens like us and another for VIPs (yourself included, since I know every one wants the group to be exclusive just so long as it includes them) or do you want that the immigration officers not follow any rules at all and just go by the classification made by the likes of you.
    Also, as far as we know, the Pakistani foreign affairs adviser has stated in the Pakistani Parliament that only 10-11 members of the Indian PM’s staff went with him beyond the limits of the Pakistani airport transit facility. Rest of the members of his group stayed put in the airport lounge. So for you to insinuate that the Pakistanis bent the rules for the Indian PM and his entourage leaves open two possibilities – either that Mr. Sartaj Aziz lied to the Pakistani Parliament or you are lying in your article. Might enlightening us as to which of the two is correct?Recommend

  • SK

    We certainly hope that day comes soon. Since at the moment Pakistan’s galaxy of friends include only the likes of terrorists like Hafiz Saeed, Masood Azhar, Al-Zawahiri, Haqqani networks and assorted taliban.Recommend

  • Rohan

    Indians in Pakistan are followed everywhere by ISI agents so that they can ensure the Indian is not doing anything anti Pakistan or saying anything against the ideology of Pakistan.
    And you have Pakistanis making a living in IndiaRecommend

  • 19640909rk .

    RFAK was depleted by a immigration officer. Why blame Modi or India?Recommend

  • jssidhoo

    Sapan Kapoor ,lets not vaporize the present rules are that Pakistanis are supposed to fly into India through Mumbai , Delhi , Kolkata or Chennai . The person to blame is RFAK’s tour manager / travel agent .Do not look for issues where none exist , we have enough real issues.Recommend

  • Gratgy

    Practice what you preach.Recommend

  • Gratgy

    Haha Muslims always feel they are entitled to special treatment and cry injustice when treated equallyRecommend

  • Gratgy

    Learn to write proper English. What is “You follow?”Recommend

  • 19640909rk .

    Dear sapan kapoor, can a immigration official take major policymaking decisions like allowing na Pakistani into the country without guidelines? He will lose his job. The onus was on Khan sahib. He should have contacted some big shot in Hyderabad and got permission from external affairs ministry.Recommend

  • Vinod

    Has Orlando Bloom converted to religion of peace?Recommend

  • Sane

    India always remains the choice land for invaders. You couldn’t stop any of the Muslim invaders. First Muslims ruled then Britishers ruled. When Muslims decided to make another country for them, they did it in just seven years. If again Muslims decide to make another country they will do it. You couldn’t even silence bare handed Kashmiri Muslims since six decades. Have your resolve and capability revisited.Recommend

  • Gratgy

    Or the Great Muslim Water Car, celebrated by one and all in Islamic PakistanRecommend

  • shambhavimurthy

    Do Pakistanis need visas to enter India? A few days eight people entered through the border across Punjab and are stationed in Phatankot now.Recommend

  • shambhavimurthy

    Color of Money. Imagine what he must be getting, if he got to fly in a chartered plane to Hyderabad.Recommend

  • shambhavimurthy

    Sapan Kapoor should be given a visa-free entry into Pakistan.Recommend

  • Faulitics

    Follow you to mediocrity? You follow?Recommend

  • someone

    People like blogger , are in same boat as one Mr. Ayyer and Khursheed and our dozen a dime. They are rant puking machines and nothing else.Recommend

  • Swaadhin

    Well said Mr Sidhu!

    Most of Sapan Kapoor’s blogs are about creating an issue out of nothing and then shouting from rooftops.Recommend

  • Lalit

    Even if India start the goodwill gesture by giving visa to Azhar Masud and Hafiz Saeed, likes of Sapan Kapoor will still blame India for not being enough large hearted.
    Even Pakistanis are not complaining abt the RFAK issue….its called being more Catholic than Pope.Recommend

  • Ramchand

    Bad English. Bad grammar. Spelling errors. Muslim hate.

  • Nerd

    Checked it and traced it. It was the Bajrang Dals website !
    Rerouted through 3 separate web addresses. 2 in India and
    one in the Philippines.Recommend

  • sParthiv

    if u didnt know modi is a lower class hinduRecommend

  • GKA

    Next when Virat Kohli hits a century, Pakistan will question India’s committment to improving tiesRecommend

  • Breaking Bad

    VIP culture exists everywhere including india. RFAK is not VIP enough for indian immigration.Recommend

  • Gp65
  • Gp65

    http://tribune.com.pk/story/1067962/na-question-hour-over-a-quarter-of-a-million-workers-deported-since-2013/ so here is another source. The issue was discussed in the Pakistani parliament. The numbers quoted are nit different to what your parliament discussed.

    What about Washington Post – is it also affiliated with Bajrang Dal? The article talks about Pakistanis being deported, not any other nationality.Recommend

  • Gp65

    He was detained in 2011 for 24 hours and money confiscated because he was carrying out unaccounted and untaxed money which he had not declared. Unlike Pakistan, he was not jailed for many months the way that model was.

    Even at that time he did nit complain about how he was treated. He said that though he was questioned, those questioning him were very polite.Recommend

  • Gp65

    No. People without proper papers would not be let in. India has 18 crore Muslims, many of his kids are now citizens of US, UK etc. They have no problem whatsoever visiting India. Yes India and Pakistan have a problematic relationship and they each give a hard time to citizens of the other countries for visa. It is not an issue of religion but nationality.
    India has had several Muslim Presidents, Chief Justices of Supreme Court, Chief Election Commissioners. Not just that it is the Indian audience (80% Hindus) who pay money for and watch movies and listen to music which has made SRK, Amir, Salman, AR Rehman as stars. Adnan Sami was given citizenship – which religion do you think he follows?Recommend

  • Gp65