Yes, we’re as surprised with the news as you are, but former India Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee got the legendary Bollywood actor to speak to then Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif after the outbreak of the Kargil conflict in May, 1999. This news comes from a new book by former Pakistan Foreign Minister Khurshid Kasuri.
In his book titled Neither a Hawk Nor a Dove , Kasuri writes that this news was told to him by Saeed Mehdi, who was the Principal Secretary to Prime Minister Sharif.
Kasuri writes: “According to Saeed, one day he was sitting with PM Sharif when the telephone bell rang and the ADC informed the PM that the Prime Minister of India Atal Bihari Vajpayee wished to speak with him urgently.”
Sharif apparently was not aware of what Vajpayee was saying about the Kargil conflict, and promised him that he would talk to Chief of the Pakistan Army Staff General Pervez Musharraf. But before the conversation could end, Vajpayee told Sharif that there was someone else who wanted to speak to the Pakistan PM. Sharif was astonished when he heard the voice of the veteran Bollywood actor.
Dilip Kumar – who was originally Muhammad Yusuf Khan from Peshawar, Pakistan, – is a recipient of Nishan-e- Imtiaz, Pakistan’s highest civilian honour.
“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”, said Dilip Kumar to Nawaz Sharif, according to Kasuri’s book.
“Let me tell you as an Indian Muslim that in case of tension between Pakistan and India, Indian Muslims become very insecure and they find it difficult to even leave their homes. Please do something to control this situation,” added Kumar.
“If even the great icon Dilip Kumar, as an Indian Muslim, felt insecure in case of tensions between India and Pakistan, it would not be hard to imagine the difficulties faced by ordinary Muslims in periods of tension between the two countries,” writes Kasuri.
Kasuri also added that having witnessed this incident first hand, he sincerely believes that peace between the two neighbours is possible. He also added that peace between India and Pakistan would have a very positive impact on the minorities in the two countries.