By Abhay Vajpayee
Pakistani team's defeat by India in the World Cup semi-final match at Mohali, in India, did not go well with the
Pakistani side, particularly the team's Captain, Shahid Afridi.
could understand his frustration, though it was also surprising that Afridi had put the arch rival clash in its correct perspective
BEFORE the match with his sporting spirit when he said it's just a game. However, this was BEFORE the match. AFTER the defeat,
he seemed to have lost his mind.
Afridi was reported to have
said that Indians are not large hearted like Pakistanis. He also said similar things about Hindus that showed a clear religious
bias. He unnecessarily injected religion and also politics in the discussion and praised Pakistanis and Muslims. He slammed
Indian media also for its "negativity."
no place for such comments.
Subsequently there were several
explanations and re-iterations of the same tirade, intended or unintentional. But the remarks have lowered the image of Afridi
in the sporting world; of course in the eyes of India people the most.
There was nothing anti-Pakistan in what India's star batsman Gautam Gambhir had said. He had said that India's World
Cup victory is dedicated to the victims of the Mumbai terror attacks.
This was clearly honoring the memories of those who lost their lives in terror attacks. Gambhir did not utter "Pakistan"
or "terrorists from Pakistan." He just expressed his sentiments and empathized with citizens of Mumbai (the city
where India won the World Cup) by dedicating the victory to the victims. What's wrong with that?
Or was it what we call "chore ki dadhi mein tinka" (guilty conscience) of a Pakistani?
The agencies reported that after creating a furor by stating that Indians are not
"large-hearted," like the Pakistanis, Captain Afridi also did a volte-face, claiming that he was misunderstood and
quoted out of context.
"Media makes a big deal of small
issues. It is shameful. I have always done my bit to improve Indo-Pak ties but sometimes you say something and it is interpreted
the other way. I have been quoted out of context," Afridi said.
"I have enjoyed my cricket in India and I love Indian people. Don't take my comments negatively. I have always
got a lot of love and affection from Indian fans. And I request the media to play a more positive role and not waste time
on such trivial issues," he told a TV channel. [How come, then, the absence of ‘large-heartedness' in Indians popped
A close aide of Afridi said that "whatever Shahid
said about Indo-Pak relations was after he was asked about the statement made by Gautam Gambhir that the World Cup victory
is dedicated to the victims of the Mumbai terror attacks."
the show again. It is clear Shahid was speaking in general terms when he was reminded that while he had said on returning
home that Pakistanis should not treat India like an enemy, Gambhir had talked politics and tried to play up anti-Pakistan
sentiments," the aide said. "While Afridi spoke positively about India, the players across the border were doing
the opposite about Pakistan."
"That is when Afridi
made the remarks about Indians not being big hearted like Pakistanis and their media being very negative about Pakistan,"
the aide said. "The all-rounder was a firm believer that sports and politics should not be mixed together. That is why
he was so upset with the reported statement of Gambhir," he added.
[Dedicating the victory to the victims
of terror seems to be politics for the Pakistani skipper and his aide. For a billion plus Indians it's not politics but heartfelt
empathy and respect for the victims. They are a nationalist Indian's legitimate sentiments.]
"In my opinion, if I have to tell the truth, they (Indians) will never have hearts like Muslims and Pakistanis.
I don't think they have the large and clean hearts that Allah has given us," Afridi said during a talk show on Samaa
news channel when he was asked about relations between the two countries.
"It is a very difficult thing for us to live with them (Indians) or to have long-term relationship with them.
Nothing will come out of talks. See how many times in the past 60 years we have had friendship and then how many times things
have gone bad," he said as the audience in the TV channel's studio applauded him repeatedly.
"We don't want to fight with each other but a third country - everyone knows which one it is - is trying to
spoil our relations. (This country) is taking advantage of Pakistan and wants to take advantage of India. I don't want to
go into details but these people will not let us come together," he added.
Asked about the Indian media's coverage of the Pakistani team during the semifinal with India at Mohali on March
30, Afridi replied: "The Indian media has a very negative approach and very negative thoughts. The people may not be
like that but I think the media had a very dirty role in spoiling relations between us and India. Our media, which is criticized
by people, is hundred times better than theirs."
was watched by the Prime Ministers of the two countries, who used cricket diplomacy to boost the peace process between the
two sides. Manmohan Singh had invited Pakistani Prime Minister Gilani who sat with Singh in the VVIP box.
Afridi had also criticized Pakistan's Interior Minister Rehman Malik for warning
the Pakistani team not to get involved in match-fixing (and Indian cricketer Gautam Gambhir, who vowed to dedicate victory
in the World Cup final to victims of the 2008 Mumbai attacks. [And Afridi forgot that at least three Pakistani cricketers
have been hauled up for match-fixing and are now out of the Pakistani team.]
"I think they were both very stupid comments by Rehman Malik and Gautam Gambhir...I wasn't expecting this from
Gautam...This is all politics, what do you know about who carried out the Bombay attacks?" he said. [How naive of you,
The Mumbai attacks resulting in 166 people
dead, were carried out by Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba, and the involvement of Pakistan's Inter Service Intelligence Agency's
officers was also suspected because of various pieces of solid evidence.