January 20, 2009 / 3:52 PM / 10 years ago

Pakistani comedian vows to make tormentors laugh

KARACHI (Reuters Life!) - Pakistani stand-up comedian Shakil Siddiqui has a new mission — to bring a smile to the faces of the men who drove him out of India.

Pakistani comedian Shakil Siddiqui speaks during an interview with Reuters in Karachi January 20, 2009. REUTERS/Stringer

Siddiqui, who regularly features on the TV show “Comedy Circus” on India’s Sony channel, returned to Pakistan after being threatened by a group of men at a Mumbai studio last week.

“Some people, I would say extremists, came to the studio where I was recording my show,” Siddiqui told Reuters in an interview at his flat in Karachi.

“They told me to leave.”

Tension between nuclear-armed rivals India and Pakistan has run high since the November attacks in Mumbai that killed 179 people.

Pakistan has been angered by Indian suggestions that Pakistani state agencies were involved and what it sees as repeated Indian hints of military action.

But Siddiqui said comedians could help change perceptions and break down barriers between people of the two countries.

“When we go there, people have a better understanding about Pakistan and when their people come here, it’s the same feeling,” he said.

As for the men who threatened him, Siddiqui feels they just hadn’t “laughed for long.”

“And I am not going to rest until I make them laugh,” he said.

So is the comedian going back to Mumbai?

Siddiqui said he would but only if he got the kind of security given to Pakistani cricketers traveling to India.

“(Indian filmmaker) Mahesh Bhatt called me and said ‘I am sorry on behalf of my people’. I said ‘I have no complaints with India. It is just about a few people’.”

For now, Siddiqui has a solution to every diplomatic crisis.

“Our government should send one comedian with each ambassador to every country.”

Editing by Tony Tharakan and Sugita Katyal

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