NEW DELHI (AP) — Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan appeared to be caught in a verbal slugfest between India and Pakistan after he wrote a magazine article that led to heated exchanges between the rival nations.
The controversy erupted after Pakistan’s Interior Minister Rehman Malik suggested that New Delhi beef up the actor’s security after Khan wrote an account of how it felt to be a Muslim in India.
In the article, Khan wrote that sometimes he became “the inadvertent object of political leaders who choose to make me a symbol of all that they think is wrong and unpatriotic about Muslims in India.”
New Delhi reacted sharply to Malik’s comments with Indian politicians and officials suggesting he should concentrate on the security of Pakistani citizens.
“Malik would be better served bothering about the internal situation in Pakistan and introspecting about the minorities there,” said Manish Tewari, India’s information and broadcasting minister.
India’s Home Secretary R.K. Singh said India was capable of looking after its citizens. “Let him (Malik) worry about the security of his country’s security,” Singh told reporters.
Khan responded to the exchange late Tuesday by saying he was extremely safe and happy in India. He said it was “irksome for me to clarify this non-existent issue.”
He said the article did not “even vaguely say that I am ungrateful for the love I have received in a career spanning 20 years. On the contrary, the article says that in spite of the bigoted thoughts of some of the people that surround us, I am untouched by skeptics because of the love I have received from my countrymen and women,” he said, reading from a prepared statement.
The 47-year-old actor is popularly known as ‘King Khan’ in the Indian film industry. He has acted in around 75 Hindi feature films, including many box-office hits. He has also hosted a season of the Hindi version of the game show, “Who Wants To Be a Millionaire?”
Khan is immensely popular in Pakistan as well. His father was born in the Pakistani city of Peshawar and moved to India in the 1940s.
India and Pakistan have fought three wars since their independence from Britain in 1947. Their relations have been marked by distrust and acrimony in the decades since, although both countries are trying to promote trade and closer cultural ties.