Why is it such a big deal that Afridi thanked the people of Kashmir for their support, India?

Published: March 29, 2016

This recognition of support by Afridi made Kashmiri spectators ecstatic. After all, who wouldn’t want their love to be appreciated before the world, and that too by their favourite sportsperson? PHOTO: AFP

This recognition of support by Afridi made Kashmiri spectators ecstatic. After all, who wouldn’t want their love to be appreciated before the world, and that too by their favourite sportsperson? PHOTO: AFP Afridi’s words could only have been termed as ‘political’ if he had talked of occupation, the freedom movement or any kind of relevant dispute. However, there was none.

During my visit to Azad Kashmir, I came across a truck on the road that was unusually bereft of any truck art; it’s exterior was all plain apart from a few words boldly painted at the back, clearly stating “Boom boom Afridi”. It proudly exhibited the truck owner’s love for the Pakistani cricket player, Shahid Afridi. This immediately reminded me of the first scene from the Bollywood film Bajrangi Bhaijaan’ , showcasing Pakistan’s side Kashmiris cheering for Team Green, a lady among them who was even willing to name her new born after Afridi.

On the Pakistan cricket team’s recent visit to India during the World T20, on the day of their match against New Zealand (March 22, 2016), I received a mention over social media from a Kashmiri (Indian-held Kashmir) saying:

This was the wish of any Kashmiri; to have his love for the Pakistani cricket team recognised by the players. At the beginning of the match, it was quite amazing to see that when Afridi was asked to comment on the support that was visible in the stadium, he did not falter in recognising the support outpouring from Kashmir. It was Ramiz Raja who asked:

“It seems you have a bit of fan following here in Mohali…”

To which Afridi responded by saying:

“Yes, a lot of people, a lot of people are here from Kashmir as well. And I want to thank people of Kolkata; they really support us as well.”

This recognition of support by Afridi made Kashmiri spectators ecstatic. After all, who wouldn’t want their love to be appreciated before the world, and that too by their favourite sportsperson?

The posters in the image below also speak volumes in this regard:

Kashmiris hold posters in Mohali saying ‘We are here for Afridi’ and ‘From Kashmir with love”
Photo: Screenshot

Perhaps a Pakistani uttering the highly sensitive K-word in India wasn’t acceptable to the locals and the following consequences commenced. The Indian media began to report the incident with headlines such as:

‘Now, Afridi says people from Kashmir have come to support Pakistan’ (Hindustan Times)

‘SHOCKING: Shahid Afridi Talks About Kashmir Before World T20 Match’ (ABP News)

The next day, BCCI came out criticising Afridi for using the K-word and advised him to abstain from passing any ‘political’ statements. It’s ridiculously hilarious that a mere appreciation of people and their support has been associated with politics – why?

Because the fans in question belonged to a place that is in dispute between India and Pakistan; a notion that makes no sense at all.

The story did not end there. After a few days, on March 25, 2016, when Pakistan played against Australia at the same Mohali, again it was noted that a significant number of Kashmiri supporters were present at the stadium, cheering for the Pakistani cricket team. While watching the match, my own family members wondered how Pakistan had obtained an overwhelming amount of support, considering the match was in India and not Pakistan. I informed them that the supporters were Kashmiris who had travelled all the way from Indian-held Kashmir to Mohali for the Pakistani team. Some of the Kashmiris talked about it on Twitter in following words:

  • wb

    Which Kashmiris?

    Shia Kashmiris? Nope.

    Hindu Kashmiris? Nope.

    Sikh Kashmiris? Nope.

    Ahmadi Kashmiris? Nope.

    Buddhist Kashmirs? Nope.

    KNP type Kashmiris? Nope.

    NCP type Kashmiris? Nope.

    Brainwashed Wahabi ISIS supporting types? Yes.Recommend

  • Nomad1412

    “Kashmiris on the other hand reacted via social media:
    Shekhar since you are a journalist visit Srinagar and ask Kashmiris about Afridi, he has only spoken the truth”

    There is your answer right there. Kashmir is not just some separatists in Srinagar.

    BTW, how would you feel if Dhoni came to Pakistan (which is doubtful as things stand) and thanked the Baloch and Mohajirs?Recommend

  • abhi

    I don’t know if Pakistanis are really so naive or they just act to be one.Recommend

  • Kumar

    nothing wrong, infact the only worry was whether they would explode when Pakistan was humiliated for 11th time. Fact that religion does not win you games or wealth or knowledge or intellectRecommend

  • Undhyu Patil

    How would you feel if Virat Kohli thanked Baloch supporters? I can give you evidence of congratulatory tweets from Baloch people when India won.Recommend

  • necromancer

    Witness the Kashmiris standing up for Pakistan’s National Anthem with their hands on their chests. Now that is the sort of sentiment which just can’t be manufactured.Recommend

  • donna taylor

    How Pakistan is able to produce good looking people with pigeon brains like this author is ever surprising. First respect the host-Pakistan should understand that considering you claim to be an excellent host.Recommend

  • Yas

    This is the myopic approach that I dont conform to. Why did we jail this Kohli fan from Punjab who hoisted an Indian flag to show his ‘love for his favourite cricketer”. How will we feel if Dhoni thanked the Balochi separatists during his interview. Sports and politics should be kept aside no matter what !!!Recommend

  • B Raja

    Why is it such a big deal that a kohli fan hosted an Indian flag, Pakistan. Hyposcrasy at its best.Recommend

  • Queen

    Veronica Roth said in Insurgent : “Do remember, though, that sometimes the people you oppress become mightier than you would like.”
    Great piece of advice for India keeping in view Indian delirium toward Indian-occupied Kashmir.Recommend

  • Jayman

    That’s because it reminds us that Pakistan is still occupying part of Kashmir and that doesn’t sit well with us. It is our ancestral lands and we’ll not rest until every inch is repatriated with India.Recommend

  • Gujesh

    Before coming to India, he praises Indians. And before coming back to Pakistan, he tries to please Pakistanis. He is a typical lota.Recommend

  • Sudhanshu Swami

    word kashmir is like Ganga. You can wash off your sins by chanting Kashmir-Kashmir. Doesnt matter if you are corrupt politician or sport person in Pakistan. Chant Kashmir and people will forget your performance.Recommend

  • vinsin

    Support for Pakistani team among Kashmiri Muslim, Indian Muslim and Bangladeshi Muslim is well known. BCCI or Indians should stop believing in fantasy.Recommend

  • Anonymous

    Should any Pak matches been played in Hyderabad- telangana…you would’ve seen x10 more support for Pak.Recommend

  • shehryar bukhari

    A very balanced article.

  • ajeet

    Agreed. Any area with more than 30% Muslims is a mini-Pakistan.Recommend

  • ajeet

    Compared to what Muslims are doing in other places, Kashmiris supporting Pakistan is no big deal.Recommend

  • wasim

    you can capture the land… but can’t enslave the hearts… Kashmir’s have basic right to support who ever they want… they are not slave to hindus…Recommend

  • Indian

    Why don’t you play cricket matches in PoK and Balochistan and allow people to carry whatever flags they want? Oh, wait a minute, I remember what happened to the Kohli fan – has he got out of jail? Afridi does not need to break India apart into its states unless he is trying to deliver a deeper message to save his reputation back home…Enough said. The so called Azad Kashmir itself does not have any love for Paksitan, let alone the real Kashmir. Of course there are paid and otherwise hardened individuals and many genuinely innocent ones who have been caught in the firing line and vent their anger against India, but then there are such people everywhere in the world.Recommend

  • necromancer

    Even I had planned to travel to Mohali to cheer for Afridi and Pakistan and believe me it has nothing to do with hating India. Its just the love of Pakistan,really.Recommend

  • sk

    please ask Pakistan government why they arrested their own citizen for supporting Virat Kohli of India for his spectacular performance against Australia. We would then answer your all queries with passion & valuation.Recommend

  • maujood

    So you somehow feel it’s not possible for a sportsperson to praise both Indians and Pakistanis?Recommend

  • Swaadhin

    How is Balochistan doing?Recommend

  • Swaadhin

    “Why is it such a big deal that Afridi thanked the people of Kashmir for their support, India?”

    Actually, it’s not a big deal, it started with the Generals and the politicians being followed and egged on by the masses and now even the sportspersons do not want to miss out on the opportunity of using Kashmir for their own gains.

    Gone are the days when this used to hurt India, we have reconciled with this and could not be more disappointed if Pakistan got over this obsession, the more the better for India.Recommend

  • Sane

    The reaction shows that Indians don’t think properlyRecommend

  • Sane

    No not all these Kashmiris. But, those who are struggling and fighting against Indian atrocities and mass killing of Kashmiris by by Indian military.Recommend

  • Sane

    Your attitude and bias is distancing Kashmiris and all Muslims of India from the Indian state. India is destined to disintegrate in few years. Modi will prove to be Gorbachev (of former USSR). You must see state terrorism by India in Pakistan and other countries of the region. One man among many has been caught by Pakistan. Your man confess that he has rank of a Commander in Indian navy and was planted by your RAW to plane and execute terrorism in Pakistan. He has confessed responsibility of many terrorist activities in Pakistan in which thousand of innocent citizens of Pakistan including minorities were killed.

    You kill minorities in India, burn churches and also send your armed services persons to do same in neighbor countries. Have some shame.Recommend

  • Sane

    Then there would be many mini Pakistan in India and one days they will assemble together.Recommend

  • Sane

    Gone are the days when this used to hurt India

    but it is still hurting you and shall hurting you till Kashmir is liberated. Kashmir is a thorn in your hearts.Recommend

  • Salim Alvi

    U mean those who get subsidized rice at 1/8th price than rest of India and go to Haj with Rs. 1 Lakh per Haji from the pockets of Hindu hard working masses of India? Recommend

  • Salim Alvi

    Mother India in fact will take responsibility of whole Mother Asia which includes Mother China and even Mother Russia. Recommend

  • Sheen

    Indian ‘occupied’ Kashmir.Recommend

  • Sheen

    They caught your RAW agent—so yeah its going pretty fine. ;)Recommend

  • Sheen

    Trust me, we would feel just fine. After all, they are same people, have same religion.
    p.s I belong to Muhajir family, but that term is quite irrelevant since we aren’t Muhajir anymore.Recommend

  • Nikhil Talgeri

    Didn’t really understand Ms Wali’s surprise.. So, MSD should make comments on Haafiz Syed, Dawood Ibrahim’s miandad connection and Osama’s apparent Abottabad domicile when he plays in Pakistan? Isn’t that as factual as the K word? On the one hand, the PCB gives sermons on “separating sport from politics” and on the other, their brand ambassador makes these comments. Ever heard of letting sleeping dogs lie? Sorry, Shahid, In this case, boys “did not play well”!Recommend

  • Nikhil Talgeri

    The bigger disservice Afridi is doing to Pakistan cricket is that the more he indulges in making such statements, the longer will the isolation of Pakistan cricket continue. The world has 0 confidence in Pakistani security forces and comments like these will just distance the BCCI further. Whether they like it or not, the PCB cannot survive without appeasing the BCCI. I know it hurts Pakistani pride to do so, but if it’s down to the question of the game’s survival, why not? One look at the current Pak team makes it obvious that this travel ban on Pak has destroyed their cricket – paunchy, half-fit cricketers, in-fighting, captain calling the coach names, players complaining to past legends who have no clue how a modern game is played. The more these petty comments are made ,the longer the never-ending slide.Recommend

  • Soul Speek

    We will see your heartburn when some day (if it is possible) an international match is played in Pakistan and some Indian player thank Baloch people for supporting them.Recommend

  • Soul Speek

    Proud Baloch too are not slaves of Punjabis and GHQ…Recommend

  • Soul Speek

    Pakistanis have been daydreaming about disintegrating India since its inception. What happened in reality? Pakistan got disintegrated and a new state of Bangladesh got formed. Its high time, you control your Punjabis and Army or else Sindh and Balochistan are not far away..Recommend

  • Sudhanshu Swami

    You are welcome.Recommend

  • Sid

    Then it should not be a big deal if India thanks Balochis too.Recommend

  • maynotmatter

    And proper thinking will be to let you guys think in twisted manner ?Recommend

  • maynotmatter

    Kashmir is the heart, Pakistan is the thorn.Recommend

  • maynotmatter

    I can guarantee you that will never happen. But you can enjoy the false sense of happiness.Recommend

  • maynotmatter

    Throw the name of Islamiyat and Muslims all over the world turn their guns towards their host country who give them liberty never enjoyed in muslim countries. So no surprise to see the Kahsmiri Muslims being beghairat.Recommend

  • LS

    Also, those Kashmiri’s who are studying in govt. subsidized schools and colleges all over India and don’t forget to criticize India or shout slogans against India in Delhi, Bihar, Karnataka – everywhere they go.Recommend

  • Swaadhin

    Did you expect your enemy to not have a hand in your ordeal, the thing is you seem to give your enemy much more credit than they deserve.Recommend

  • Swaadhin

    Your funny mate.Recommend

  • Swaadhin

    The Biharis in the liberated erstwhile East Pakistan are waiting to be liberated from the former Pakistanis, any advise for them?Recommend

  • Swaadhin

    He is what Gujesh addressed him as. “Indians can never have as big hearts as Muslims” is not a statement given by anyone else but Mr Afridi.Recommend

  • rationalising argument.

    we know indian muslims support pakistan.Recommend

  • LS

    According to S/47 Resolution – Pakistan was identified as an aggressor nation attacking Jammu and Kashmir. IOC that Hari Sigh signed was a legal instrument with representatives of India, England and J&K signing it. Pakistan’s concerns are invalid as stated in UN resolution that asks Pakistan to vacate J&K. So it is Pakistan Occupied Kashmir but it is never identified as Indian “Occupied” Kashmir anywhere else in the world.Recommend

  • jay

    Pakistan dont even think. Or Baluch Bangaldesh wont have happened ! Even ur name is oxymoron. A Pakistani who calls himself Sane ? lolRecommend