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Media blamed for Feroz Khan controversy

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Tuesday, May 23, 2006
Mumbai (UNI): Denying the authenticity of the entire controversy surrounding veteran actor and film-maker Feroz Khan's trip to Pakistan along with the Indian delegation, Dale Bhagwagar, public relations officer of Akbar Khan's Taj Mahal - An Eternal Love Story, has squarely blamed the media for dramatizing incidents ''which do not warrant national attention''. Ever since the controversy gained momentum, the Khan brothers have been unavailable for comment. While Feroz Khan's whereabouts could not be ascertained, Akbar Khan has flown to Iran on a personal visit after his return from Pakistan.

Replying to queries about the news regarding Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf banning Feroz Khan's entry into Pakistan after the actor's remarks at a Press conference in Lahore, Bhagwagar said, '' Do you really believe that a man of the stature of the President of Pakistan has the time to be involved in minor incidents like these?'' Since the last two days, the media has going berserk covering the episode, despite there being no official confirmation from the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi, he said, adding the media seems to be simply delighted to cover the issue quoting ''sources in the Pakistan Presidency and reports from intelligence agencies''.

When asked if he implied that the media reports are fabricated, the public relations officer retaliated, '' Has any newspaper, website or channel come out with authentic proof of what they are stating. They are all quoting or picking up from each other.'' He added, ''From day one, the media has been giving undue importance to this incident. Mr Akbar Khan, who was an integral part of the Indian delegation to Pakistan, has clearly stated that what happened regarding his brother in Pakistan was a slip of the tongue.'' Bhagwagar said he doubted vested interests in this debate about whether Feroz Khan should be banned in Pakistan. ''When I did my research, it came to be known that the origin of the story of this so-called ban was from none other than Mr Fakhr-E-Alam, the compere of the Press Conference in Lahore. I'm told, Mr Alam is a fading actor in Pakistan, who is 'using' this incident to gain mileage for himself through fiery interviews in the Pakistan media. In his quest for his two minutes of fame, he is forgetting and ignoring the fact that he is responsible for raking up an unnecessary 'nationalistic' debate between the two countries. What's more; the media, for the sake of sensationalism, is willingly falling prey to the antics.''

Earlier, BJP vice-president Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi had termed Feroz Khan as a ''national hero'' and applauded him for standing up for the country in Pakistan. At this juncture, Taj Mahal maker Akbar Khan was furious, claiming that Mr Naqvi had tried to politicize the incident. With the news about President Musharraf banning Feroz Khan's entry into his country, the issue has again assumed political undertones in India. ''I feel the media should concentrate on positive developments that have taken place ever since the Indian delegation visited Pakistan for the Taj Mahal premieres in Lahore and Karachi. The love and respect the Pakistani people gave our delegation was unbelievable. After it returned from Pakistan, the Government of India has invited the Lahore-based Pakistan Film Producers Association (PFPA) to Delhi on June 25 for a Pakistani film festival, which is such an optimistic development. Lets hope this confluence of cultures ushers in a new era of friendship,'' Bhagwagar said.

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