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The Afridi Volte Face.

April 4, 2011

Everybody was all praise for Afridi after the India v Pakistan match. He handled the press conference very well, gave straightforward answers, and even questioned the need to hate India, when India and Pakistan have so much in common. I, for one, was particularly impressed with his maturity and level headedness.

In a way, his job was the most difficult job during the World Cup. His team had to face allegations of matchfixing, when it was actually the fault of 3 individuals, and not the entire team. Every loss was analysed mercilessly, and every dropped catch (Kamran Akmal, I am looking at you. WTF?) was viewed under the microscope. I honestly don’t think the Pakistani team should be subjected to this scrutiny. They don’t deserve it. Sadly, everything Pakistani is being intertwined with politics (and religion to a large extent).

When Afridi had some good things to say about India, it didn’t really take long before girls started declaring their love for him, and guys started proclaiming his brilliance. Mind you, these were the very same people who swore at Afridi for making that comment against Sachin (God). Including myself. But as I said, his initial interviews seemed honest and forthright, and guess what? Made sense.

When the recent interview of Afridi to a Pakistani channel where he said ‘Jo Musalmaano ka dil hain/Jo Pakistani ka dil hain, woh unka ho nahi sakta’ was making the rounds, it took no time before people started abusing him. Including myself. He also (very rightly) mentions that Indian media goes overboard, and loses objectivity. Most people are outraging over the fact that he said Indians dont have large hearts. Incidentally, these are the same people who leave no stone unturned to say all things Indian are awesome, and nobody/country can match India’s greatness.

Hence, those offended by the ‘Pakistani…..’ statement by Afridi are just among those zillion jingoist lynch mob. What really is worth outraging is that Afridi referring to Pakistanis as Muslims and (inherently) Indians as Hindus. This is an outright insult to the millions of Muslims living in India (who at last count, are more than the population of Pakistan). This has not happened for the first time, by the way. During the IPL fiasco last year, there was a similar comment made by Sohail Tanvir (watch from 4:10) where he talks about all of Indians as Hindus. Another notable incident would be Shoaib Malik apologising to ‘the Muslims around the World’ for the loss against India in the 2007 T20 WC. Seriously now?

Some people suggest that Afridi’s comment is in retaliation to Gambhir dedicating the Indian victory over Pakistan and the World Cup to 26/11 victims. Now two things about this,

1. Afridi’s first interview to Dawn News came a day before Gambhir gave that interview to Hindustan Times. And it is now acknowledged that Afridi’s statement had nothing to do with Gambhir’s statement.

2. Gambhir’s remark about dedicating the Indian win over Pakistan and the World Cup win to 26/11 can be interpreted in both ways. Yesterday, at a reception at the Taj in Mumbai, where the Indian team was staying, Harbhajan Singh told the hotel staff that ‘We have not forgotten the 26/11dedicated the World Cup win to the victims. Sachin Tendulkar dedicated the test series victory over England to 26/11 victims. 26/11 is deep ingrained in our memories, and nothing can make us forget it. So don’t read too much into it when we dedicate a win over Zimbabwe to the 26/11 victims as well.

Just the day before he was advocating peace and harmony, and the very next day he says India and Pakistan’s relations cannot be bettered. It takes memory of a goldfish to forget what one said and come up with a contrasting statement the very next day. But, I don’t think Afridi meant what he said in the latest interview. I am completely willing to believe that there could be some pressure on him to retract his earlier comment made in a good manner. But one thing I honestly wish for, is the Pakistanis who think Pakistan represents the Muslims of the world and India represents the Hindus to stop doing it. Nothing can be more foolish than that. I don’t know what gives them that impression.

Also, the usual stupidity of exchanging words has begun. Why don’t people understand that one person’s views are his own, and not the entire nation’s? Too much to ask for some rationality? Hope better sense prevails on both sides (specially the Indian media who are sensationalising this issue again).

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