Neha Maheshwri (BOMBAY TIMES; April 7, 2017)

While the unofficial ban on Pakistani artistes working in India -imposed in the wake of the Uri attack last year - continues, actress Sara Khan recently faced the brunt of the tension between the two countries. Sara, who has been shuttling between India and Pakistan for the shoot of her second television show Lekin across the border, was forced to stay back in Karachi for a week, after the authorities there refused to issue her an NOC to fly back to her own country. The Pak officials, sources say, told the actress that their action was in retaliation to Mahira Khan being banned from promoting her Bollywood debut, Raees, in India.

Says a source close to the actress, “Sara was scheduled to return on March 28. However, there were no flights available to India for the next two days, which forced her to extend her stay. When she approached the immigration counter at Karachi airport on March 30, the staff recognised her. They then cited Mahira's example and said, 'Remember how Mahira was treated by your people? How can we let you go so easily, especially when the equation between the two countries is so critical?', After she pleaded with them, they relented, but delayed issuing the NOC by a week. It was quite scary.“

The actress went back to her hotel and spent the next one week getting her paperwork done. She finally returned to India on Wednesday evening and directly reported on the set of the show, Jaana Na Dil Se Door.

Yash Patnaik, the producer of the show, claims that his team waited with bated breath for her to return. When she didn't, he even contemplated replacing her since her entry was to be telecast on March 31. He says, “Sara was supposed to start shooting with us from March 30, but she was unable to fly back home. My team was constantly in touch with her. Seems, she was reminded about Mahira's case multiple times. Fortunately, she flew back on Wednesday night.“

On her part, all that Sara is willing to say is, “There is speculation that I was arrested in Pakistan, but that's not true. There was no restriction on my movement and I was not ill-treated. In fact, they were quite courteous. But yes, the delay did inconvenience me as I had to commence the shoot of my new soap in India. After this incident, I would like to assert that East or West, India's the best.“