During consciousness and intoxication, mysterious forces within and outside have danced to the intensity of my passion. The symphony of my determination to make them dance has never fallen weak nor faltered.
Monday, April 4, 2011
So much for cricket diplomacy
I've never been Afridi's biggest fan. But his recent form with the ball, and his leadership in the World Cup changed my mind...well, sort of. I have always found him to be mercurial, and capable of doing anything. From scoring a hundred in 30-40 balls to being out playing the most atrocious shot in the books, to mistaking cricket balls for apples.
A day after his return to Pakistan, he held a brief press conference on his front porch. In a question asked by one of the reporters regarding losing to India, Lala fired back, questioning why Pakistanis look towards India with jaundiced eyes. Why do we dislike India while Indian movies, tv sitcoms and channels are watched avidly in Pakistani homes? Why do we follow Indian traditions at weddings but we can't not bear to see them win a cricket match? I was proud of the maturity Afridi showed in that press conference, as he took on the role of a peace ambassador between the two countries. His words must have caused a moment of self reflection for many Pakistanis. He won hearts in Pakistan and in India after his performance during the World Cup and was continuing to do so after it.
A day later in another tv interview, Afridi bowled the proverbial doosra. In a question asked regarding the kindness and hospitality of Indian people in Mohali, he exclaimed that our Pakistani and Muslim hearts are much bigger than those of our neighbours to the East. While he spoke frankly, he offended many people around the world by saying that Muslims and Pakistanis have cleaner intentions in our hearts while others don't. He also said that we can not sustain a healthy relationship with India, laying the blame on a third country, most likely America. Apparently, this third country will never let Pakistan and India enjoy a harmonious relationship. Just for good measure, he blasted the Indian media for being negative towards Pakistan and for being an obstacle in the way of improving Indo Pak relations.
So, Afridi went from questioning bigotry to championing it in a matter of hours. Given his erratic nature, there are no surprises here. I wouldn't be surprised if he regrets the things he said now, or for day or two, before changing his mind again. With Afridi, you just never know what to expect next. Such is the wiring in Afridi's mind. But seriously, he must start choosing his words carefully. As an ambassador for Pakistan it is important that he continues efforts to promote a peaceful relationship with all our neighbours. By claiming that Muslims and Pakistanis have cleaner hearts, he is being extremely offensive to a lot of people, whether Muslims or not. This been said, perhaps Afridi was upset with the comments made by Indian batsman Gautam Gambhir, who said he is sure that the win over Pakistan will have helped victims of 26/11 Mumbai attack. Does that mean Gambhir thinks he was playing against Kassab XI in Mohali? Does beating Pakistan in a cricket match avenge the bloodshed in Mumbai or defeat terrorism? What about all the innocent Pakistanis who have died from terrorism, Gautam? One can only wonder why a technically gifted batsman like Gambhir would play such a loose shot.
With sweeping statements like these by super stars from both India and Pakistan, we can not move away from the rhetoric of the past 60 years. I was told by Sufi Salman Ahmad (Junoon) today that if there's ever a chance of Indo Pak peace, it is in this decade, as 60% (750 million) Indians and Pakistanis are under the age of 20. A clear message that the young are capable of influencing a change for peace. It's important to note who influences the young the most. Cricketers have always been idols for the young Pakistanis and Indians, and if they continue to make such ill advised statements, we can't bridge the gaps of insecurities and trust.