Jokes apart: Pakistani comedy barred for Indian Army

Bhopal, Jan 25 (IANS) Laughter may be the best medicine, but for the Indian Army, a dose ‘Made in Pakistan’ may be too bitter to swallow.

Pakistani stand-up comedians Irfan Malik and Ali Hasan, who have regaled audiences this side of the border on the TV show ‘Great Indian Laughter Challenge’, found this out when their scheduled show at the Mhow Cantonment Monday was cancelled at the eleventh hour.

They were scheduled to entertain both soldiers and civilians at the inauguration of an auditorium in the cantonment, some 200 km from Bhopal.

Everything, from advance payments to clearance from the external affairs ministry, had been done.

But then their show was cancelled on the ground that Pakistani nationals were not allowed into army bases.

‘They were also happy to perform and we had cleared all the procedures. The chief executive officer (Mhow Cantonment Board) Alok Gupta had also talked to local administration and emailed several others. But only a day ahead of the programme, we were told that Pakistan origin people are not allowed into army bases,’ Kailash Pande, vice-president of the cantonment board, told IANS Wednesday.

Pande, who was assigned to organise the programme, added: ‘When we informed Irfan and Ali, they said that they had recently performed in an army area in Chandigarh. However, we told them that as the army has taken a decision, we could not do much.’

Instead of the Pakistani duo, comedians Pratap Fauzdar and Kishore (Junior Devanad) were called in to perform.

‘Irfan and Ali too regretted the incident as both had prepared well for the programme,’ Mohd. Sagir, a friend of the duo, told IANS over phone from Delhi.