Even as dust settles on the case of Pakistani singer Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, who was arrested and later released for carrying unaccounted cash worth Rs 60 lakh out of India last month, the episode, say other Pakistani artists who perform in India, has caused irreversible damage to their image.
Adnan Sami, a popular Pakistani singer, says he is being labelled ‘another Rahat’ for no reason. "I don’t know why the Pakistani media is bringing up my name in Rahat’s context. I’m in a spot with the government over a foreign exchange issue. But you can’t compare my problem with Rahat’s. I had done everything according to official instruction," he says.
Pakistani actor Veena Malik, who created controversy back home ever since she participated in the reality TV show, Bigg Boss, has only been facing more flak in the days following the Rahat episode. She rues, "Rahat saab was earning so much money in India. He should’ve paid his taxes in the proper way. I am the only Pakistani actor to earn money on both sides of the border. I pay my taxes in Pakistan and even give 40% of my earnings in India towards taxes," she says. "I’ve never accepted cash for any of my commitments in India," she clears further, to avoid the suspicion in the air.
Singer Shafqat Amanat Ali, also from the same country, gets the same feeling. "It is sad that other Pakistani artists are being looked at with suspicion after the incident. As an artist, I know that we have to follow the law of the country where we perform. I pay my taxes both when I am in India and Pakistan, so I wish everyone stops thinking like that," he says.
Indian showbiz experts, too, side with the artists, saying the generalisation is unfair. "Why punish other innocent artists who have no connection with the Rahat case? They are adhering to the law of the land. It is simply unfair to reduce people to stereotypes," says filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt.
On February 13, while Rahat was on his way back to Pakistan from India, he was detained at the Delhi airport by officers from the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence. An undeclared amount of $1.24 lakh (nearly Rs 60 lakh) was reported to have been seized from him and his troupe. Later, he was released and slapped with a penalty of Rs 15 lakh.