In Pakistan, if you support the Indian cricket team, you will be arrested

Published: January 29, 2016

One can understand why some Pakistanis might be offended by the sight of an Indian flag over a Pakistani house. And I can also understand why Indian nationalists may be offended by Umar’s arrest

I’ve long protested the Indian state’s stern actions against Kashmiri activists and other citizens for hoisting the Pakistani flag or singing the Pakistani anthem. Then something happened in Okara, Pakistan, that left me feeling oddly hypocritical, badly disarmed, and somewhat embarrassed.

A few days ago, a 22-year-old Pakistani tailor raised an Indian flag over the roof of his house in a small Punjabi village. Umar Daraz, a cricket enthusiast, sewed the tricolour banner in his own little shop, ostensibly as a symbol of admiration for the Indian cricket team – particularly, Virat Kohli.

His patriotic neighbours were displeased. Umar refused to remove the flag and continued working in his shop. His house was raided by the police and Umar was soon arrested under Section 123-A of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) and Section-16 of the Maintenance of Public Order (MPO).

These are big words for a young villager who supposedly endangered the sovereignty of our great nation with a piece of cloth, and now faces up to 10 years in jail. These are big words for most people, in fact, and require some explanation.

Section 123-A of PPC says nothing about flags of unfriendly countries, specifically. It outlaws the act of condemning the creation of Pakistan or advocating the abolition of its sovereignty. Section 16 of the MPO deals with the dissemination of rumours.

There is no news of Umar claiming to have directly admonished the Two-Nation Theory or the creation of Pakistan. His act of simply raising an Indian flag over his house may arguably imply such a thing, although Umar admits he had committed a blunder.

One can understand why some Pakistanis might be offended by the sight of an Indian flag over a Pakistani house. And I can also understand why Indian nationalists may be offended by Umar’s arrest. Now, consider the following:

In January last year, seven youngsters were arrested by the Indian police in New Delhi, for allegedly putting up a Pakistani flag. They were charged under Section 153-B of the Indian Penal Code.

In September last year, a Kashmiri leader was arrested for unfurling a Pakistani flag and singing the Pakistani national anthem.

In March 2014, students at Swami Vivekanand Subharti University were suspended and then threatened with sedition charges for cheering for Pakistan’s victory in a cricket match.

Would a Pakistani nationalist endorse the actions of the Indian authorities in these circumstances? It shouldn’t be surprising that what you do unto others is being done unto you too.

We are left with two options that do not involve blunt hypocrisy. The first is for us to embrace our insecurities and shake hands with the Indians on the need to harangue and arrest our own citizens for waving the other country’s banner. We bow our heads and we lead ourselves to believe that the other’s nationalistic delirium justifies our own.

The second option involves an acknowledgement that Pakistan’s integrity is secure enough to withstand the sight of a poor villager brandishing an Indian flag in honour of an athlete or a sports team he admires. Or that India’s dignity is firm enough to endure the sound of one of its subject singing a Pakistani national song without bursting apart at its seams.

The second option for each of us is to take one step back, and avoid adding more caveats to what’s becoming an increasingly meaningless phrase: ‘A Free Country’.

I think I’d strongly recommend the second option!

Do you think Umar Daraz's arrest for hoisting an Indian flag is justified?

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Faraz Talat

Faraz Talat

A medical doctor and bubble-wrap enthusiast from Rawalpindi, who writes mostly about science and social politics (and bubble-wrap). He tweets @FarazTalat (twitter.com/FarazTalat)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • mirestan

    Bull shit . If you host Indian flag on your house. Than there is some thing wrong, The guy must be arrested and his links to Indians must be investigated.Recommend

  • Allah Hafiz

    I think Pakistanis should feel proud by hoisting Indian Flag….Look at the beauty of the flag…three colors having an equal area…..Which respect every religion and color and race……Pakistan should also have a flag change…and should have a flag same as India…..i.e. Green color can be halved and Red color can be put instead of green and white should be increased…..Red should be the most loving color of pakistanis,….Recommend

  • Parvez

    You got all serious and are beating yourself up on an incident that took place in a small town in the Punjab ( to be honest, I felt bad about too ) where the police do not use their brains ( most probably because they have none ) and the neighbour was certainly no better. Stuff like this happens, should not, but it does, both here and in India. Lets hope better sense prevails and if it comes to adjudication, those with brains use them.
    In my view, let us not bother about how India manages this…….we should bother about ourselves.Recommend

  • Soumyadeep Debnath

    logo ko jeeney do…..Recommend

  • Striver

    For God’s sake read the report before you decide comment on it, Faraz Talat. He was arrested not for sporting Indian team but hoisting the Indian flag on his house.

    TWO DIFFERENT THINGS !

    This makes your article a total nonsense.

    Recommend

  • wb

    You remember your other blog? I had told you exactly what would happen if someone hoisted Indian flag in Pakistan.Recommend

  • mimi sur

    @Mr.Talat,

    Being Indian I would say, whatever Pak gov did was right. We also do the same. We also hate Pakistanis when they visit India , we really do not like them, But most Pakistanis are shameless . We also want Pakistan gov to shut down all the Pakistani theaters screening Hindi movies. When anyone do not stand up during our national anthem play, we drive him/her out of that place, so leave alone raising/praising Pakistan Pakistani flag.Recommend

  • Bharatiya Australian

    Dear Author: Your comparisons are misleading…Had this young Pakistani sport lover had raised flag as an Anti Pakistani act, his jailing for 10 years was probably palatable…Comparing this with miscreants in India who had to be treated was clearly a case of acting Anti India reasons…Hope the difference is crystal clear…If not just exchange the hats and think.Recommend

  • Pro Truth

    How did he get an Indian flag in Pakistan?Recommend

  • Nasir

    shame on u .. what ever is the point but no one should forget that Indian cricket is not allowed to play againt Pakistani team… they r killing us in schools and uni and u r worried for hoisting the Indian flag on a house? it shouldn’t be allowed on 1 pretext or the other.. v r at war with them….Recommend

  • Feroz

    When there is no law preventing flying any countries flag, how can anyone be prosecuted ?Recommend

  • Agent Of Death

    LOL!!!Recommend

  • Nasser

    The blogger intentionally ignores the real issue… it’s not about supporting Indian or Pakistani teams… it’s a all about hoisting each others flags on your roof tops. In India raising a green flag during a Muslim celeberation is treated as raising a Pakistani flag and an act of treason. where do you live my dear? Just visit the country and,see what happens in India if a Muslim raises a Pakistani flag.. he will be lynched to death. But headine of your blog clearly mentions,that this tendency persists in Pakistan only. Recommend

  • Laman Riaz

    Considering the tense relations not a very smart thing to do. If your that big a fan of Virat Kohli put up a picture of him instead of raising the Indian flagRecommend

  • Sridhar Kaushik

    I would have been happier if Pakistani authorities had arrested and sentenced the cleric who influenced a teenager to cut off his arms for blasphemy.Recommend

  • Chitral wala

    Dude From DC? Had to attach DC to give credibility
    to your utterance? So, typical, of a confidence lacking
    race. Besides, rest assured, a hindu will rear up to pour
    hate on any comment, in this eNewspaper.
    Doubt you even know where DC is.
    [It's next to Poona, District Chanderguptalakshmiramainabag]Recommend

  • DudeFromDC

    You need to pick up some basic debating etiquette and manners rather than vomit vile when you don’t have a valid response. Anyway, do you see the irony in your own comments, which kind of vets mine?Recommend

  • Sane

    In India if you support Pakistani team you will not be arrested…….but shall be killed on spot.Recommend

  • Chitral wala

    This is a debating society? Huh? Really? Etiquette?
    Have you perused the Hindu comments in these blogs?
    They call it the Hindu section of ET.
    Seems like a tsunami of hatred pouring from the Eastern
    Neighbor of Pakistan. Perpetually. Why call it Hindustan?
    Call it Hate Desh. Fits y’all like a glove. No truck there.
    Recommend

  • Gratgy

    None, thats more than we can say for Muslims being killed for not being true enough in the Land of the PureRecommend

  • Gratgy

    Tried reading the text, did not understand, so will criticize grammar instead of the content. Recommend

  • Gratgy

    Analyzer, please analyse your sentence and try to make sense of it. What is “a Military stand of with Invasion level Artellery”Recommend

  • Gratgy

    Maybe in your parallel universeRecommend

  • someone

    What a lie….none of those Kashmiri student was killed. Man…what can’t you use internet to google relevant facts before typing?Recommend

  • jay

    hahaah typical Pakistani ! talking about race when most of Pakistan are converted Hindu!Recommend

  • Bilal

    Why is the Pakistani flag mixed in with the Indian flagRecommend

  • alisherdil

    He is arrested n is in prison n soon b sentences Recommend