Even as it was revealed recently that veteran actor Dilip Kumar had been asked by former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee to speak to Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to defuse tensions during the Kargil war in 1999, it has now also come to light that the actor had secretly visited Pakistan twice.
Former Pakistani foreign minister Khurshid Kasuri, who is in India for the release of his book, visited Dilip Kumar at his Mumbai residence on Tuesday, and told the media about the actor's secret visits to Pakistan.
"His wife Saira Banu told me that Dilip Saahab had been twice on secret missions to Pakistan. He was flown to Islamabad by the Indian government in special aircraft. I believe one of the visits took place during the Zia ul Haq period. The other was more recent," Kasuri was quoted as saying by Dawn.
Kasuri had said earlier that Vajpayee had handed over the phone to Dilip Kumar when he was talking to Sharif after the Kargil crisis, a fact that he also said was mentioned in his book -- 'Neither a Hawk nor a Dove'.
"Sharif was astonished to hear the voice of Dilip Kumar, who was originally from Peshawar, tell him: 'Mian Sahib, we did not expect this from you since you have always claimed to be a great supporter of peace between Pakistan and India. Let me tell you as an Indian Muslim, that in case of tension between Pakistan and India, the position of Indian Muslims becomes very insecure and they find it difficult to even leave their homes. Please do something to control this situation," Kasuri has said in his book.
Kasuri also visited the Jinnah House in Mumbai and said he would like it to be the Pakistan consulate in the city.
"I visited the Jinnah House, and it broke my heart to see it in disuse and disrepair when it could have easily become Pakistan's consulate in Mumbai," he said.
Kasuri's book launch in Mumbai had come under attack by the right-wing Shiv Sena party, whose members blackened the face of Sudheendra Kulkari who had organised the event.