YES…it is okay to support PAKISTAN

24th October 2021, it was India versus Pakistan,  which is rightly described as ‘War Minus Shooting’ by Mike Marqusee in his book. Little needs to be said how intense and emotional India v Pakistan matches are. Whether it is the Javed Miandad’s six off the last ball or it’s India’s victory in the World Championships. And who can forget the memorable and diplomatically ended 1999 series (1-1), where Sachin’s fighting 100 and Kumble’s 10 wicket haul were the major highlights. But, when it comes to World Cups, the story has rather been one-sided, as India was unbeaten against Pakistan till 23rd October. But that day, something very strange and rather extreme happened. Pakistan won the match very comprehensively, but for India, the loss was not just a match. That night, India lost its very essence and the idea it is based upon.

Virat’s Hug

The first attack came upon Virat Kohli for hugging and greeting Pakistani players. The argument was he was hugging the ones who kill Indian soldiers. I mean…are you drunk? Are the Pakistani players the ones killing our soldiers? The very essence of sports is to showcase the spirit of brotherhood. If you can’t accept that, you better stop watching it, anyways you are not worthy of this sport. Yes…I am of the opinion that sports should be kept aside from all these nonsense nationalist dramas. And…I strongly advocate that the India v Pakistan series should happen more regularly and Pakistanis should be allowed in the IPL. But, that we all know is a distant dream, that can only be watched by a crazy dreamer. Also, I would say that it was very brave of Virat Kohli to hug them, having the idea at least at the back of his mind of what can go wrong in our country.

Shami’s Off Day

Mohammad Shami…is one of the prime pacers of India and he has won us numerous matches. That night he was having a bad day, just like almost all other Indian players. But, as soon as he got away for a couple of boundaries at the end, I got this bad feeling of where it will end up. Exactly that happened, as the online feed was filled with abusive posts on Shami, where his nationality was being questioned. The reason for all this was only and only his religion because there were several other players who didn’t play well that day. I mean, even if someone so dedicated to the team is not spared, what will happen to a young Muslim player during whose last over India loses a close match.

Attacking someone over religion is most pathetic'

Here, there is one more thing that I need to specify. The majority of the posts that came up in support of Shami were saying that he shouldn’t be abused because of an ‘Off Day’. NO…even if he didn’t have an off day, even if he continuously bowls poorly, even if he becomes one of the worst bowlers and gets dropped, even then one has got absolutely no right to attack him over his religion. Also, here I would highlight one more trend that many people tried to show. Some are of the opinion that derogatory posts were being done by Pakistan based accounts. According to them, the issue was ‘not big enough’ to be given so much attention. But what happened next, maybe proved them wrong.

And…then India lost its Essence

After that, during the press conference of the next match, Virat Kohli the Indian Captain was asked on this issue. His response was right on point. He straightaway said that “If someone is targeting and discriminating someone over their religion, it is the most pathetic and disgraceful thing that can be done.” He further added that “The team has full support for Shami, their ‘Brotherhood’ can’t be shaken and the ‘Trolls’ can try as hard as they can and they won’t be wasting even his one second on them”. Now, I don’t even need to say this that as a Virat Kohli Fan, as an Indian Team Fan I was just filled with pride. Our captain had just shown the ideals our country is based on and attacked those who want to tarnish our country. But…the response was on the very contrary.

May be an image of 1 person and text that says "To me attacking someone over their religion is the most pathetic thing human being can do. Everyone has the right to voice their opinion, but personally have never even thought of discriminating [against] someone over their religion INDIA People take out their frustrations because they have no understanding of the fact that Mohammed Shami has won India number of matches...If people can overlook that and his passion for the country, Honestly, don't want to waste even one minute of my life on them. We stand by him fully. we back him 200%. Our brotherhood cannot be shaken. VIRAT KOHLI"

A huge chunk of people was literally screaming at Virat Kohli for showing support for his teammate. Rape threats for his 9-month-old daughter surfaced online. But, this time the accounts were ‘officially’ founded to be from India by the cyber crime branch. Well…I would say there is a reason why India is called the Rape Capital of the world. Also, can one tell me that if the attacking tweets were from Pakistan, why did Virat’s statement cause so much uneasiness in India? Instead, the hate here was so extreme that after India lost the next match, a large section was celebrating the defeat just because of Virat’s statement. Maybe they wanted some ‘Hindu Rashtra’ kind of a statement from Virat Kohli. I mean what is this level of hate that makes you celebrate your country’s defeat. At this point only, I would like to elaborate on a new point.

Why can one support Pakistan…?????

What is Cricket? Well, it is life for many including me…but primarily it is a game. In a game, you tend to support the team you like, which is your country in most cases. But, is it binding to support your country every time they come to play. The answer both legally and logically is NO. If India qualifies for FIFA World Cup, can you expect the hardcore fan of Brazil who has been supporting it their whole life, to suddenly change their side during the Brazil v India match? NO. Okay leave football, even during cricket matches, you can find a section of people who are die-hard supporters of Australia because of its unparallel cricketing dominance in the past. So, does it make them Anti-Nationals? The answer is NO once again.

If you are a cricket lover, I don’t think you can hate New Zealand. Indeed, there might be a section that will be avid supporters of the Blackcaps. But that doesn’t make them Anti-Nationals. Similarly, if one has some soft corner for Pakistan, whether based on their religion, their ancestry or simply because of the beautiful and enigmatic face of Dananeer Mobeen (Pawri Girl), they are in their full rights to support the team. And one can support Pakistan simply because they were Underdogs whose multiple series were cancelled leaving both their players and fans disheartened. Here, the main point of objection that can logically come is the relation that our country has with Pakistan.

Yes…We don’t have good relations with each other. Yes…there are constant violations and intrusions at the border from both sides that lead to killings of soldiers on both sides. And yes…Pakistan is a hub of terrorism. But, our relations are also bad and even severely so with China, but isn’t it the case that we trade maximum with China only, isn’t it the case that most of you are reading this piece on a Chinese phone only and isn’t it the case that the title sponsor of our premium cricket league is a Chinese company. So what possibly can exactly define, how one can be deprived of supporting Pakistan…I mean it’s an individual choice. If you remember the famous Bollywood movie GADAR, the protagonist didn’t have any issue in saying ‘Pakistan Zindabad’ and his issue only came when he was asked to say ‘Hindustan Murdabad’.

Presenting The Past: Tracing History Of Shared Names Across India And Pakistan

Now, if you ask me personally I can’t even think of supporting any other team than India anytime in my life. For me, even supporting even Australia or England over India is wrong, but that is my extremely interiorly personal belief. I can’t just expect everyone to abide by that. For example, if a girl cheats on his boyfriend, you can call her a ‘Bad’ girl, but you can’t file a molestation case on her, if a guy betrays his friend, you can call him a ‘Bad’ boy but you can’t file a treachery case on him. Similarly, if someone is supporting Pakistan or Australia I can call him a Bad, and not so Patriotic Guy. But, in absolutely no way can I call him an Anti-National and file a sedition case on him, in no way can I boycott him or beat him up openly…in absolutely no way. Let the difference between being bad and being a criminal be there. Yes…I won’t support the bursting of crackers as I am against crackers for various reasons. Here, many might ask why crackers aren’t burst when Australia wins. Well…I can’t define up to what ‘level’ should one celebrate after its team wins.

Conclusion: We lost something more than the World Cup

India has lost against Pakistan earlier also but never was the nationality of Zaheer Khan or Irfan Pathan was questioned, it is a new trend being brought up and promoted by the current ‘powerholders’. Also, the statements that came up on both sides of borders further worsened the situation. While Pakistani ministers called it the victory of ‘Islam’ (God knows How) and even legendary Waqar Younis showed that despite rising to such heights, he is a religious bigot from within. Similarly, statements from Sehwag and Gambhir were quite provocative and actually created a divisive environment. I can say that those could have been easily avoided in a polarizing situation that too by such mature and great players. Nowadays, we get offended just so easily. We just need an advertisement showing an inter-religion marriage or inter-religion Holi and the Padam Shri Madam Kangana Ranaut will call it an attack on ‘Hindu’ civilization.

So, we have lost the world cup. (Don’t worry…a detailed article is coming up on it real soon). But, for me when the country got divided on religious and communal lines, to the extent that they were ready to bring a 9-month-old daughter into the fray and were able to actually celebrate India’s losses just because the team stood for its ideals, India had lost something much bigger than the World Cup. In such a pathetic situation, even if we had won the World Cup, it would not have been a victory. I am very down at the loss both on and off the field. But, I am standing with my team, my values and my ‘Idea of India’ which seems fading away nowadays behind a fog of Jingoism and Ultra-Nationalism



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