Pakistan's Interior Minister Rehman Malik on Monday waded into the controversy over Bollywood star Shahrukh Khan's remarks about the problems purportedly faced by Indian Muslims, saying the Indian government should provide the actor security.
"He (Shahrukh) is born Indian and he would like to remain Indian, but I will request the government of India (to) please provide him security. I would like to request all Indian brothers and sisters and all those who are talking in a negative way about Shahrukh, they should know he is a movie star," Malik said.
Noting that Shahrukh is loved by the people of Pakistan and India, Malik said: "I am sure all those who are talking against him or are trying to threaten him, they will withdraw their threat with this hope that the stars are loved, the stars provide love and they are like a symbol of unity".
Malik made the remarks while interacting with reporters at a reception organised by high Commissioner Sharat Sabharwal to mark India's Republic Day.
He was responding to questions about a first-person account penned by Shahrukh in a magazine, in which the star focused on his experiences as a Muslim in the post-9/11 world. Malik said that extremism was growing around the world.
"India has realised now which I identified three years back – that this (extremism) is going to grow in India," he claimed. Pakistan, he said, would not exploit such extremism or "use it negatively".
He addedm, "Let's get together and fight against this extremism and terrorism because we are working for betterment and peace in Pakistan and India".
Malik said he wanted to see friendship between India and Pakistan flourishing because Islamabad believes friendship between the two sides is "a way forward for peace in this region and prosperity on both sides".
Despite ‘minor’ issues such as the tensions along the Line of Control, Malik said he was "sure the composite dialogue will continue in the same manner and all the agreements we have signed will be respected".
He asked the Indian government to begin implementing a scheme to issue visa on arrival to Pakistani senior citizens, saying he had directed Pakistani officials to grant such visas to Indian senior citizens.
Officials have said the scheme, which was to start from January 15, was put on hold as the Pakistani side was seeking many documents from Indian senior citizens.
In contrast, the officials said, the Indian side had prepared simplified procedures for Pakistani applicants.