On your screen there are two Khans.
The one on the left is Pakistani superstar Fawad Khan. He has chosen to condemn terror attacks everywhere else except in India. His heart has bled for Peshawar and Paris but not for Pathankot. He is currently in Pakistan. He’s probably got a holiday from work.
Hundreds of Indians are defending Fawad Khan.
On your right is Lance Naik Firoz Mohammad Khan. Firoz was killed at a forward post near the Line of Control (LoC) which is close to Bhimber Gali area of Rajouri district in Jammu. He died on October 15, 2013. A mortar splinter hit him fatally during an intense and sustained firing from the Pakistani side of the LoC.
Many soldiers die for India along the LoC but Firoz’s case was different.
When Firoz died, he was technically on leave.
He was granted leave to celebrate Eid with his family by the Commanding Officer (CO) of the 38 Rashtriya Rifles.
As he was getting ready to leave for his home in Nawab Sahab Kunta in Hyderabad, news started trickling in that the LoC is under threat from Pakistan yet again.
Firoz refused to go on leave. He called his wife and two children and asked them to pray for him. He then requested his seniors to cancel his leave. His leave was not cancelled.
He picked up his rifle, strapped his boots and proceeded towards the forward post that very night. Hours later, a mortar splinter fired from the Pakistani side pierced through his spleen.
He bled to death.
There’s nobody left to remember Firoz today. Firoz is an Indian soldier who chose to face enemy fire than see his family on Eid.
If I have to choose between Firoz and Fawad. I will choose Firoz. Firoz is dead and Fawad has no comments to offer for the death of soldiers like Firoz.
After penning my open letter to Fawad Khan I decided to take a break from the topic. There were too many people following everything that I was writing and it made sense to keep quiet.
Besides, I strongly feel that everybody should have a voice and there was a healthy debate going on. The Pakistani media started responding to my open letter with more open letters, most of whom were directly addressed to me.
At the same time, I glanced through some of the letters. Most of them were high on insult-comedy and rhetoric. They made little sense. Only a handful of them had firepower, like this one from a doctor in Abbottabad which, in my opinion, is the best reply I have received.
I listed a few common arguments from the rebuttals.
Let’s look at the myths that these letters have so emphatically tried to establish as the truth.
- Bollywood movies are works of art: This is a funny argument. Bollywood has been lobbying with the Indian government for industry status for ages. Bollywood produces commercial cinema. Cinema that is produced with the sole intention of selling it. Bollywood is pure commerce. Anything that doesn’t sell has no place in Bollywood.
Fawad Khan, similarly, is a commercial artiste who sells his talent for money to Bollywood producers. It makes sense to hire a Fawad Khan because his presence may increase the film’s appeal to the Pakistani diaspora across the globe. The presence of Fawad Khan will add value to the ‘product’ as he has massive fan following among Pakistanis. So, let’s not fool ourselves here by bringing in examples of parallel movies or art films which were not made for the sole purpose of trade.
We are talking about trade and trade only.
- Fawad Khan is a soft target. Targeting him won’t prevent an impending war: Aren’t the soldiers who were sleeping in their barracks at Uri, soft targets too? The truth is: Everyone is a soft target when it comes to terrorism.
Every target is a soft target as most terrorist organisations fight like cowards. They would target civilians (or sleeping soldiers) rather than a face-to-face gunfight.
Are we talking about war? No. If we were talking about war then we wouldn’t have demanded that he (Fawad) be sent back to Pakistan in the first place. We would have demanded that India should attack Pakistan. We all know that targeting Fawad Khan won’t stop a war or de-escalate tension at the borders.
The truth is: Over the past 30 years, we have tried everything to de-escalate tension, including sending sweets, if you may.
Nothing has worked because Pakistan has refused to take action against the terror camps operating against India. They have only taken action against those who targeted the Pakistani establishment.
- Fawad Khan was already a star in Pakistan before Bollywood called him: Yes, he was. He was a superstar in Pakistan. Most people in India didn’t even know him before Zindagi beamed his images into Indian drawing rooms. Zaroon Junaid of Zindagi Gulzar Hai started wining hearts in India too and this alerted Bollywood producers.
Years later, post the success of Kapoor and Sons, Fawad is one of the top supporting actors in this country (and also in the overseas markets that Bollywood caters to) and his net worth has shot up 10 times. India definitely made him a bigger star than what he was, in Pakistan.
- Bollywood is banking on Fawad Khan for higher returns in the Pakistan market: Not true actually. Because the returns from Pakistan isn’t comparable to other overseas territories which actually yields money in dollars and pounds. Bollywood would rather bank on the US market than Pakistan. A Fawad Khan adds value but he isn’t actually a make-or-break factor in a Bollywood movie.
Bollywood tries to sell artistes from Pakistan from time to time. Some have failed while some got traction with the audience. The ones who made business sense have stayed back and the others have retired.
- Pakistan is not dependant on Bollywood: I wouldn’t agree to the statement. I think Bollywood content is immensely helpful for the Pakistani multiplexes. The Pakistan entertainment industry will receive a huge hit if they don’t get to screen Bollywood movies. On the other hand, it won’t matter much for Bollywood producers if they lose the market that is Pakistan.
- Fawad is not a politician, he shouldn’t be forced into making a comment: When did national security become a political issue? Who are saying this? When did the death of our armed forces become a political issue? Did the soldiers die fighting for the politicians?
- I am gaining mileage out of this controversy: I am not serving as a full-time journalist anywhere. This so-called publicity doesn’t help me. It might actually go against me in the long run. Bad publicity is not good publicity. There’s always a difference. Whatever is being written against me will stay on Google forever and I am aware of that. I poured my heart out in the earlier blog. I get nothing and I have no regrets or intention to change my stand.
As we speak, Pakistan has responded to the Indian ban on their artistes by imposing a blanket ban on Indian television channels and Bollywood films in Pakistan from October 15, 2016.
So, let’s puncture the bubble that Pakistan is hospitable towards Indian films and artistes.
We are actually even.