Beyond Indian Cricket’s Nationalist Madness : an exchange between Pakistani Shahid Afridi & his ‘Indian’ fan

A day ahead of the India Pakistan match, when Indian media, publicity hungry cricketers and showbiz stars are all over spitting their Indian nationalist bile, Chalukyan G, a Chennai  based graphic designer wrote a fan mail on Facebook to Pakistani cricketer Shahid Afridi. His fan mail did not just touch upon sporting matters but also laid out in detail the hypocrisy of Indian nationalist rhetoric. 

To his surprise, Afridi replied and unlike cricketers like Sehawg, he said “Let the best team win,” 

RAIOT though not a cricket loving zine (we are full of football) is publishing this exchange because we are sick of the idiotic cricket nationalism that takes hold of this subcontinent like a recurring fever.

Here is the text of Chalukyan G’s note titled – “Yes, I’m abusing you, Afridi” – followed by Shahid Afridi’s reply

Dear Shahid Afridi Official,

It is very least expected that you might read this. But, in the hope that people will read this because of your name, I am writing this. I used to like you before too, I knew many humanitarian services you do to people through your foundation but I got to know you much more deeper last year. I need to draw a comparison now to write this. As usual, as a ‘Indian’, let me bring in India and Pakistan here. It was in 2016 Kashmir uprising I found the difference between Sehwag and you (Afridi). I don’t follow Indian cricket much, being aware of its Brahminical selection policies. It disgusts me. Coming back to 2016, where hundred plus Kashmiri civilians and kids were shot dead and thousands partially or fully blinded, which could be termed as World’s first Mass Blinding (For example, One of the thousand children blinded was Inshah Malik), Sehwag tweeted from his official Twitter account calling for a genocide on Kashmiris and praised the gross human rights abuses by Indian Armed Forces stationed in Kashmir. Whereas, You (Afridi) tweeted in favour of peace and against war. I’m not sure of the exact words of both of you as there are too many tweets to scroll now. I’m working in night shifts, so I need to sleep. But not before abusing you now. Using one’s privileges, what a person does matters a lot. Coming back to this day (16th June, 2017), in yesterday’s cricket match (as I said I don’t follow cricket, I’m not sure of the names), between Bangladesh and India, Sehwag not only limited himself to his ugly Brahminist-nationalism but also spewed some dirty words in his own forte, that is in cricket. He had tweeted something in Hindi in which he mentioned Bangladeshis as grandsons and Pakistanis as sons who will, meet India, the father, in finals coming Sunday. Obviously in abusive local flavour of his own language. Then I had to see your (Afridi’s) tweet where you congratulated the good play by India and waiting for the finals (between Pakistan and India). It is humans who make nations. And especially, humans with power and privilege. You have a privilege and you use it so well. I don’t have enough words to abuse you with more love my dear. Love you for your heart and a sane mind, Lala.

A lot of love from Chennai. Why I mention Chennai is, there are more people like me here, in my state Tamil Nadu. And I guess, we were the first ones in India to protest against the atrocities and war crimes of Indian Armed forces in Kashmir. For example, a non-electoral political organisation called May 17 Movement and few others together organised a protest (Video here). I’m proud to be part of this section of humans in India who don’t need war. I’m proud to be that one person whose tears could cross his eye boundaries that doesn’t see borders. Oh! I’m just typing my emotions out. Sorry. Coming back to abusing you, let me take you two-three days behind from today. A village in Kashmir, Kulgam, was brutalised where shops, cars and houses were smashed and people were beaten up by Indian army for celebrating Pakistan’s victory over Sri Lanka. A young man’s hand was broken. This is not new in Kashmir. You might be aware of a aspiring cricketer who was shot dead by Indian forces, in a civilian protest against the molesting of a Kashmiri girl by an armed forces’ personnel. Now looking at all this, I am afraid of what will happen if your team wins the final. Kashmir will celebrate it and I’m afraid my country’s jawans will beat up civilians in Kashmir valley. I’m afraid of your team winning. I don’t wish you to lose as well. I just need sport to be sport here, with more people like you in my country and not people like Sehwag to give patriarchal war cries for mere sport, which reflects as traumatic wounds on Kashmiri minds and bodies. I really wish there are people like you instead of privileged people like Sehwag, who again praised an Army major for committing an established war crime of making a civilian as Human shield. Let alone the Indian Army chief who praised it. And not to mention the millions of Indian nationalists who cheered for this gross crime. Many human rights bodies across the world condemned this act, including the United Nations HRC if I am right. I’m sure a lot of nationalists are going to curse me for this. You know, especially people with ideologies similar to that of a Hindi actor who went to the extent of saying Arundhati Roy should also be tied to the Army jeep as a Human shield. But do you think a man standing for victims of oppression would care? No. Definitely not. If I do, I wouldn’t openly abuse you (Afridi) with so much love. Wish to meet you (Afridi) one day. May be for a Iftar party. Advanced Eid wishes, big brother! You stand tall. Coming to the finals match, I’m still like a cat on the wall whether to wish your team success coming Sunday, given the above excuses. Let me go to sleep now.

Bye!

And then Afridi replied

Dear Chalukyan,

This is in response to your heart warming note, To start off with, why shouldn’t I had not read the note, its fans who make us, their love and appreciation is what matters the most after our performance. I thank you for taking out time and acknowledging the humanitarian work I do as part of my Shahid Afridi Foundation, the purpose of it solely is to work for fellow humans and do our bit in making their life better.

Whereas your comparison is concerned, I respect your thoughts however here’s my take on it;

Sports are supposed to bring nations closer and not take them at war. India and Pakistan have been arch rivals but despite of that I have let that remain till the field and not brought it home. I have some great Indian friends, Harbajan Singh, Yuvraj Singh and Zaheer Khan to name a few with whom I have spent some great time.

My innings in Chennai has a great memory attached to it where the Indian crowd supported me and made me feel at home.

Their chants of Boom Boom and Lala still echo in my ears very loud whenever I think of it. Why forget I hosted the Indian team in Karachi at my residence back in the day during their tour of the country and how can one forget the unintentional carelessness could have lead to a greater cause of embarrassment, we all laugh at it now that we think of it haha.

Cricket and sports should be used to promote peace among nations, the act of an individual can never ever be taken as an act of the whole nation, if somebody is sledging or war mongering or passing inappropriate comments, it just shows and portrays their upbringing. As a sportsman, one must appreciate regardless of nationality if somebody or a team performs, be that be India even and that’s exactly what I did, we learn this way and that is exactly what we call sportsman spirit, perhaps those who are doing sledging or war mongering lack this sportsman spirit in them. I recently said in a statement that I get a lot of love and respect from India, your note just corroborates my claim, Indian fans are indeed very loving and hospitable.
Its easier to do war mongering, talk aggressive but that’s not being constructive, as sportsmen we’re the undeclared ambassadors of our country and I strongly believe we should be having great ties, restoring cricket and ensure cordial relations with neighbors but for that the Indian side has to make a sincere effort too.

I advocate peace and love, I advocate for humanity and it is my belief that the war mongering hysteria from across the border that portrays the mindset of few will end, We in Pakistan have evolved and have come out of this anti India sentiment, I pray one day our neighbors will evolve too.

Here’s hoping to meet you one day, when the borders will be treated as borders, Neighbors will treat us and look at us with respect and Cricket will be the real winner.

Regardless of whoever wins the Champions Trophy Final on Sunday between Pakistan and India, a good game of cricket is what I’m looking forward to – May the best team win.

Love and Regards,
Shahid Khan Afridi

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