Pakistan concerned over Rahat Fateh Ali Khan’s detention in India (Lead, superseding earlier story)

Sunday, February 13, 2011

ISLAMABAD/NEW DELHI - Pakistan’s Interior Minister Rehman Malik Sunday directed the country’s envoy in India to extend consular support to singer Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, who was detained at New Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport on charges of carrying undisclosed money.

Rahat was detained at the airport Sunday on his way back to Pakistan after attending concerts and award functions in India. More than $100,000 was recovered from the 15-member troupe, which is now being interrogated by customs officials.

Malik hear a detailed briefing on the matter from Pakistani High Commissioner to India Shahid Malik. “He directed Shahid Malik to keep a tab on the issue and provide legal and consular support to Rahat,” state-run Pakistan Television reported.

The envoy assured the minister that he and his staff would “undertake all efforts to facilitate Rahat”, the channel said.

It added that the envoy “has also established contact with airport officials and other relevant authorities in India to prepare a strategy in this regard”.

Rahat’s brother-in-law, Asim Raza, told Dunya TV that they “received information from the media and were feeling concerned about it”. “We are yet to establish any proper contact with the authorities in India although Rahat talked briefly with his wife and asked her to remain hopeful of a positive outcome”.

Reacting to the development, Pakistani folk singer Rafaqat Ali Khan told Dunya TV: “Artistes sometimes showed carelessness in such legal matters, which landed them in trouble. The government must intervene in this matter to get him freed without any further trouble.”

The detention of Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, heir to the legacy of legendary singer Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, spread like wildfire in Pakistan and was the lead story in almost all Pakistani TV channels in their prime time bulletins.

Rahat, the nephew of Nusrat, is popular both in India and Pakistan. Several of his hit songs from Indian films are a rage on both sides of the border, for which he has won several awards, including the recent Filmfare award for “Dil to Bacha Hai Jee”.

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