Visa row: Anupam Kher declines visa offer; says "no dates" now

Following the hullabaloo over the alleged denial of visa to Anupam Kher by Pakistan, the country’s High Commissioner to India Abdul Basit on Wednesday formally invited the veteran actor and offered him a visa to attend the Karachi Literature Festival beginning on Friday, February 5.

However, Kher politely declined the offer saying that he has already “given away” the dates he had reserved to attend the Fest.

“Thank you Mr. @abasitpak1 (Abdul Basit) for your call & offering me visa to visit Karachi. I appreciate it. Unfortunately i've given away those dates now,” the ‘Saaransh’ actor posted on Twitter. Kher’s tweet was in response to the Pakistan High Commissioner’s tweet which read, "@AnupamPkher you are always welcome Sir. You are a great artiste; we respect and admire you."

Earlier, Kher claimed that he had been singled out of the 18 delegates invited by the organisers of the Karachi Literature Festival to attend the event. He was denied a visa while the 17 other Indians received their visas.

However, the Pakistan High Commission had on Tuesday claimed that Kher had not submitted a visa application or his passport to them. So, there was no question of denying him a visa. Later in the day, Pakistani officials said that he would be given visa within hours if he applied.

The 60-year-old actor alleged that Pakistan's interior ministry had refused to issue an NOC (No Objection Certificate) for his visit. But Pak High Commissionner Abdul Basit denied this and tweeted, "@AnupamPkher sorry Sir I don't know who told you about this so-called NoC, we are still to receive your visa application and passport."

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Kher, who received the Padma Bhushan this year alleged that he was being targeted for his pro-Kashmiri Pandit stand and speaking about tolerance/intolerance issues.

“Has my visa been denied because I speak about India's rich tradition of tolerance or I am a Kashmiri Pandit who may expose Pak terror nexus? The Indian Government welcomes Pakistan-based writers, artists, actors, etc. The Pakistan Government bans entry of Indian actors. Why fear a free dialogue,” Kher had tweeted on Tuesday.

"Didn't Pakistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs red flag my name to Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi? Why hide facts deliberately? Pakistan High Commission should know their own rules. #KarachiLitFest had given my name to authorities one month back and have my name in every poster," he said in another tweet.