Shoaib Malik’s post match interview with Ravi Shastri during the Indo-Pak Final in the ICC World Twenty20 Championship has raised eyebrows of many people all over the world. Pakistan surely have played superbly well to reach the finals of a tough tournament and they were brilliant in coming back out of a losing position to almost clinch the cup. But then Malik with an irresponsible remark has created an unnecessary controversy to round off an exciting and fun-filled tournament.
This is what exactly the young Pakistani Captain told “I want to thank everyone back home in Pakistan and Muslims all over the world. Thank you very much and I’m sorry that we didn’t win, but we did give our 100 per cent” and that has become very controversial back in India.
First and foremost, most people might have felt that what the word ‘Muslim’ has got to do here in a Prize Distribution Ceremony of a Global event such as this ICC World Twenty20 Championship. Cricket or any sport in this world is beyond any religion, creed and caste. The Cricketers are proud individuals representing their countries and what they indulge in is not a war between two countries, but just a sport. Malik if he meant exactly what he said, then Cricket is much more than that for him perhaps. If he meant that all the Muslims were supporting Pakistan to defeat India, then he definitely was wrong in thinking that way. He might have also thought that ‘Muslims’ is a synonymous word to ‘Pakistanis’. In that case, what is Danish Kaneris then? Kaneria, the strike bowler in Test Cricket for Pakistan might be feeling so low and an ‘odd man out’, an insecure man in the team being a Hindu. That might be fine as Pakistan, we all know is an Islam Country and not a Secular State like India. If Malik really meant what he said, then most people must have been hurt as they have been only watching Cricket so far, they have been watching the shots from the batsmen, they have been seeing the bowlers outsmarting the batters with their skill and variations rather than anything else.
All Indians have this wonderful understanding of respecting all religions equally. Of course, there are the religious fanatics everywhere but that is only a minority. Surely, the Hindus, the Muslims, the Christians and people from different religions in India were supporting their own country barring a few exceptions. And what’s wrong if an Indian supports the Pakistan team or vice-versa to win against each other? May be he likes the Pakistani Cricket team more than the Indian or the other way round, after all it is a sport and not a battle! It is after all for a CUP, isn’t it?
If Shoaib thought that all the Muslims of India would support Pakistan, then he should be condemned. His remarks are in bad taste especially in the 21st century where religion is nothing more than an individual’s belief. The Indian team is a mixture of players from different religions. They are Hindus among the Indian Players, there are the Pathan brothers from the Muslim Community, a Christian in Robin Uthappa and Sikhs in Harbhajan Singh and Yuvraj Singh who all have been selected on merit rather than any reservations. All these players represent India collectively.
Most Indians would forgive and forget Malik for his speech as they would be ready to give the benefit of doubt. And that doubt is that Shoaib Malik had messed it up because of his poor English speaking skills. He might have also got carried away because it is the holy month of Ramadan and thus a slip in the tongue because of its influence. If Malik was insensitive about the fact that a Global Audience were watching and listening to him and if the words were intentional, then something is seriously wrong unfortunately. Like how a Osama Bin Laden thinks that he is leading a holy war on the behalf of Muslims all around the world, Shoaib might be thinking that the Pakistan Cricket Team is representing all the Muslims in the World. The Freedom of Speech is there for everyone but that doesn’t mean that anyone speaks anything provocative or insensitive in the open, more so from an international player representing his nation! Let’s hope that Shoaib Malik didn’t mean what he said!