Not targeted, grateful to Indian govt: Rahat
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Last Updated: Wednesday, February 23, 2011, 23:41
Lahore/Islamabad: Pakistani singer Rahat Fatah Ali Khan, who was briefly detained in India for possessing undeclared foreign currency, today said he will visit the country again if "respectfully" invited, even as he admitted guilt and claimed he was "unaware" of Indian custom laws.

Rahat,37, dismissed the impression that he was made a target in India. "As an artist, the Indian government helped me a lot in (resolving) this case and I am grateful to them." "It was a customs law that I was totally unaware of.

According to my knowledge, one can travel with up to USD 10,000 in foreign currency under international laws. In India, the law is that you can carry only USD 5,000," he said.

"I will go to India if they respectfully call me," Khan told reporters during an interaction on his return when he was asked if he would visit the neighbouring country again.

Khan returned to Pakistan following a brief detention in India on charges of possessing undeclared foreign currency.

He admitted that he was guilty of the charges levelled against him but said at the same time that he was not aware of Indian laws regarding the possession of foreign currency.

Khan also addressed a news conference at a hotel in Lahore this evening to clarify matters related to his detention in India.

He said his detention was due to the lack of knowledge about Indian custom laws. Khan also said he had never let Pakistan down and would not disappoint his fans.

"I want to tell you that I did not deliberately violate the Indian laws. I did not let my country down," he said.

He said he was travelling with a 14-member team and the money seized by Indian authorities when he was detained at the airport in Delhi on February 13 belonged to all members of the troupe.

Besides imposing a fine of Rs 15 lakh on him, the Indian authorities had seized the cash, he said. "I never carried such a huge amount in the past," he said.

All his transactions in the past in countries like the US, Britain and Canada were done through banks, he added.

Khan also denied reports that he had evaded paying taxes in Pakistan. Asked if he would initiate legal proceedings to get back his confiscated money, Khan replied: "Yes, I am considering a legal course to get my money back but I will make the final decision after consulting my friends."

The nephew of late qawwali legend Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan thanked Interior Minister Rehman Malik and Pakistan's High Commission in India Shahid Malik for helping in his release.

He dismissed the impression that he was made a target in India like Adnan Sami, another singer of Pakistani origin.

The 37-year-old singer was detained at Indira Gandhi International Airport on February 13 on the charge that he was carrying USD 124,000 that he had not declared.

In a related development, Interior Minister Rehman Malik today said in parliament that Pakistani artists and students with foreign scholarships will have to obtain no--objection certificates from the Interior Ministry before travelling abroad.

He won the Filmfare Award for Best Male Playback Singer this year for 'Dil To Bachcha Hai Ji' from the movie 'Ishqiya'.

Rahat and his entire troupe, numbering around 16, including his manager Maroof and event manager were detained and their interrogation were underway tonight several hours after they were held by Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) officials.

The Foreign Currency was not declared to Customs officials after the immigration checks. The troupe was on in its way to Lahore via Dubai by an Emirates flight.

The recovered foreign currency included USD 10,000 and USD 8,600 in demand drafts and some Traveller Cheques.

Rahat on February 19 was slapped with charges under FEMA and Customs Act in connection with recovery of huge undeclared foreign currency.

Rahat and his manager Maroof each paid Rs 15 lakh by way of penalty slapped on them in connection with the huge amount of undeclared foreign currency recovered from them.

The amount was paid to the Indian Customs department after the matter was adjudicated. The undeclared foreign currency however remains confiscated.

Pakistan had asked India to immediately release Khan, detained in New Delhi.

Pakistan Foreign Office was closely monitoring Khan's case and the Pakistani High Commission in New Delhi had set up a special team to liaise with the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, which had detained the singer.

As per norms, a foreign national cannot carry beyond USD 5,000 USD in cash and 5,000 USD in other instruments. The person has to declare the amount if he is carrying more than this to the Customs Department.


First Published: Wednesday, February 23, 2011, 23:41

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