There are no depths which our media and apathetic cricketers-turned-politicians cannot plumb. The Indian media frenzy over the recent Bharat-Pakistan cricket encounter, and the inexplicable need they have of rushing for bytes and interviews with mediocre and Islamist Pakistani cricketers is revolting enough.
But India Today group’s Aaj Tak Hindi channel went one step further. During a pre-match show where Aaj Tak had collaborated with Pakistani outlet Samaa TV, Vikrant Gupta (Managing Editor Sports Tak/Aaj Tak) and Harbhajan Singh (now a RS MP with AAP) were seen grinning when Shahid Afridi sitting in the Pakistani TV studio made an offensive comment about how his bête noire Gautam Gambhir was “not liked even by Indian cricketers”.
Twitter users were quick to educate Harbhajan and Vikrant Gupta on how they can learn from Gautam Gambhir about standing up for their fellow countrymen. Harbhajan has now lashed out at critics, asking them to “not behave like animals”, and adding “Gambhir is like my brother..I laughed because curd had fallen at my feet.”
Fair enough. However, the Gambhir controversy is minor compared to the major blunder committed by Vikrant Gupta and Harbhajan on this show. They legitimized cricket with Pakistan, a country that should be boycotted and sanctioned in every way possible. Harbhajan projected it as a ‘welcoming, loving’ country, which flies in the face of the pain and suffering of victims of Pakistani-sponsored terror, and the Pakistani Hindu and Sikhs who suffer from brutal persecution each day. He also legitimized a bigot and terror-apologist like Afridi, who any civilized person should shun.
The entire pre-match show can be seen here.
In it, Harbhajan Singh is heard romanticizing cricket with Pakistan and how it had “kept both countries together”. He talks about how ‘great’ it was when Pakistan visited Bharat in 1998-99 – just months before Pakistani infiltration in Kargil led to war breaking out, and we witnessed horrific Pakistani barbarity like the inhuman torture of Captain Saurabh Kalia and his men.
Then Harbhajan waxed eloquent about the ‘great welcome & hospitality’ showered upon him when Bharat visited Pakistan in 2006. He reminisced how he got to see pilgrimage spots like Nankana Sahib, Panja Sahib. Afridi at one point said “I am a Pathan and he is a Sikh” to explain why the two shared such a great camaraderie. He also made a gesture as if wiping away a tear when Harbhajan was talking about ‘cultural similarities and how loved he felt’ in Pakistan.
Such melodramatics and taqiya showmanship aside, here is a reminder of the bigotry and sheer ignorance that Shahid Afridi, a patriotic Pakistani, represents –
5. Ex Pakistani cricketer Shahid Afridi smashed a TV at his home when he saw his daughter imitating an ‘aarti’ scene while watching an Indian show. pic.twitter.com/hFiGvhvB1Q— Anshul Saxena (@AskAnshul) August 28, 2022
In the above clip, Afridi tells a Pakistani TV host about how he smashed a TV at his home and scolded his wife when he saw his daughter imitating an ‘aarti’ scene that she had seen in a Bharatiya show.
And if the casual anti-Hindu bigotry of the man doesn’t convince you of why it is so offensive for an ‘Indian’ TV channel to speak with him, here are some more hard facts. Shahid Afridi’s cousin Shaquib was a Harkat-ul-Ansar terrorist who was killed by BSF in Anantnag, J&K in 2003.
In a speech he delivered to Pakistani troops in PoJK, he claimed that PM Modi is “infected with a disease greater than Covid..the disease of communalism” and then made the false allegation that Modi is “inflicting atrocities on Kashmiris, for which he will have to answer in this life and the next”. Afridi has also expressed support for Kashmiri terrorists like Yasin Malik, a man who shot down Indian Air Force personnel in cold blood and whose JKLF played a major role in the rape & murder terror campaign that led to the Kashmiri Pandit genocide and exodus in 1990.
The irony of labelling others as “communal” is completely lost on such Islamists; in their minds, they are so utterly convinced about Islam’s superiority that they regard assertive non-Muslims as ‘communal’. This is the exact reason why ordinary Pakistanis feel little emotion when Pakistani Hindu girls are abducted, raped, converted on a daily basis. Most feel that the girl is ‘better off’ now that she has become a Muslim, as she will not go to jahannum (hell), which their belief system says is the ultimate destination after death for all non-Muslims, irrespective of whether they did good or bad deeds.
Harbhajan also glossed over several inconvenient facts in his nostalgic trip down memory lane. The spate of Pakistan-sponsored terror attacks in the 2000s – 2001 Parliament attack, 2002 Kaluchak massacre of Army jawan’s wives and children, the string of terror strikes in Mumbai and other metros, and of course the 26/11 Mumbai attack directly plotted and controlled by ISI – were all brushed under the carpet as Harbhajan talked of ‘love and brotherhood’ during India-Pakistan bilateral cricket in the mid-2000s.
How can one forget how ‘cricket diplomacy’ was used to conduct reconnaissance for terror strikes? Pak Army Major Abdurrehman and key 26/11 accused Sajid Mir alias Sajid Wajid had visited Bharat as cricket fans and conducted reconnaissance of important sites in Delhi and Mumbai for about a fortnight, after coming on fake passports to watch a match between Bharat and Pakistan at Mohali in 2005.
More than a cricket discussion, this disturbing AajTak – Samaa TV joint show seemed to be a ploy to revive Bharat-Pakistan cricket. We must also add that Vikrant Gupta uttered many Urdu words in the discussion that would be incomprehensible to any Bharatiya. The Pakistanis, on the other hand, did not feel the need to speak Sanskritized Hindi to seek Bharatiya approval.
But then, one expects nothing better from Delhi’s “national” media which lives in its own bubble, unmindful of the pain and suffering of Hindu families that suffer due to Pak-sponsored jihad in Kashmir and other parts of our country, or the helplessness of Pakistani Hindus who face brutal rapes, murders and institutionalized anti-Hindu bigotry & discrimination every day of their lives in that Islamist hellhole nation.
For people like Vikrant Gupta and Harbhajan Singh, do feel-good exchanges with their close Pakistani pals mean more than standing up for their own countrymen, standing up for common human decency?
Harbhajan Singh has in the past spoken for the Sikh granthi’s daughter who was abducted and forcibly converted by Pakistani Islamists. After being appointed as a AAP Rajya Sabha MP, he even raised the exodus of Sikhs from Afghanistan in Parliament, although strangely he appeared to be more accusatory towards the Bharatiya government than the Taliban.
Just recently, another abduction and forced conversion of a Sikh woman Dina Kaur has been reported in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province of Pakistan. KP is the home of Pathans/Pashtuns, the ethnicity which Shahid Afridi proudly boasts of as representing ‘pure, big-hearted’ people. Will Harbhajan use his friendship with Afridi to good use, and ask him to reunite Dina Kaur with her family, and also stop the exodus of Pakistani Sikhs from Peshawar, the capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa?
As for India-Pakistan cricket, no thanks. The less we play this nation, the better. HinduPost has already taken BCCI to task for maximizing these encounters during the ongoing Asia Cup. Common Bharatiyas are sick and tired of our elites and celebrities acting as if everything is normal, while everyday our citizens and Pakistani Hindu and Sikh people suffer due to the deadly Islamist venom that has seeped deep into the body politic of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.
A complete break of ties with Pakistan, sanctioning and isolating it internationally, punishing retaliation whenever it carries out a terror operation – this is the only way to cure the Islamist nature of Pakistani society. It’s citizens will rise against the mullah-military regime and the Islamist ideology only when they realize how it had made them an international pariah.
This is the only method which works with fascist nations like Pakistan – this is what worked with Nazi Germany, and with apartheid-era South Africa. It takes bitter medicine to cure a deep-rooted disease. Being kind and generous with Pakistan has never worked, as it only emboldens the Islamists into thinking they can have their cake and eat it too, i.e. they can continue bleeding Bharat with a 1000 cuts keeping end goal of Ghazw-e-Hind in mind, while pretending to be ‘pure-hearted Muslims’ on the surface.