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Last Updated: Friday, 4 March, 2005, 15:13 GMT
Pakistani music legend in India
Mehdi Hassan
Ailing Mehdi Hassan has admirers on both sides of the border
One of Pakistan's most renowned singers, Mehdi Hassan, has left for India for medical treatment.

Mr Hassan suffered a stroke a few months back but is now recovering, family members say.

He says he will try to perform in public during his three-month stay if his health permits.

Mr Hassan's visit to India comes amid improving relations between Delhi and Islamabad over the past year.

A few months back, Mr Hassan was barely able to talk but spoke to journalists in a strong voice at Karachi airport shortly before his departure on Friday.

"They [India] have better methods for treating my ailments," he said.

Mr Hassan will be admitted to a leading hospital in Delhi known for its excellence in traditional or Ayurvedic medicine.

Many admirers

Many Pakistanis have started going to India for medical treatment since travel curbs between the nuclear neighbours were eased last year.

Mr Hassan said some performances have been scheduled for him in Delhi and Mumbai (Bombay) although he was not sure if he would be up to fulfil them.

He has not performed in Pakistan for a long time because of his health.

Mehdi Hassan's music is held in high esteem in both India and Pakistan. Legendary Indian singer Lata Mangeshkar once likened his songs to the "voice of god".

He started his career more than 50 years ago but had to wait for several years before getting his first big break.

Once in the limelight he was crowned by the subcontinent's music elite as the "king of ghazal". Ghazal is a genre of music specific to South Asia and parts of the Middle East.

Leading Indian stars, film-makers and music directors are expected to visit him during his stay.

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