"We had an hour-long chat with the deputy prime minister and he listened to us attentively. Advaniji told us he was not aware of some of the facts we had brought to his knowledge. His response was positive," the two singers later claimed at a hurriedly summoned press conference at The Press Club of India, New Delhi [ Images ].
Singh, who was conferred the Padma Vibhushan by President A P J Abdul Kalam [ Images ], said it was a matter of deep regret that Indian singers like Lata Mangeshkar [ Images ] and Asha Bhosle [ Images ] were not invited to perform in Pakistan while Pakistani singers come to India and earn fame and money.
"The Indian high commission in Pakistan invited me for the Republic Day celebrations in 1980. That was the only time I performed there. An ISI [Inter Services Intelligence] agent kept an eye on us and, after 15 days, we were told to pack up and leave. It was only when I was leaving Pakistan that I realised the man was a senior ISI officer -- everyone saluted him when he came to see me off," Singh added.
While Pakistan-sponsored terrorists were gunning down innocents in Kashmir [ Images ] and carrying out massacres, he said Indian television channels were busy airing songs of Pakistani singers.
Abhijeet drew attention to 'a singer from Pakistan' who was minting money in India. No one seems to be concerned about that, he claimed. "Income tax officials raid the houses of top film stars and harass them. Nobody has asked this singer even once where the money is coming from and how much he paid those who have made so-called friendly appearances in his video albums. The video albums are being funded from across the border."
He added if the government could ban cricketing ties between India and Pakistan because it would hurt the sentiments of soldiers, cultural exchange programmes should also be discontinued till Indian singers are allowed to perform in Pakistan.
The two singers were supported by Vijay Kumar Malhotra, the government's official spokesperson in Parliament, who told rediff.com, "If we can stop playing cricket with Pakistan on emotional grounds, because Pakistan has been sponsoring terrorism from across the border, we should also stop our cultural links with Pakistan."