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Pakistani Cricketers Anguish Over Kashmir, Or Their Inability To Play In IPL?

Pakistan banned in IPL

From the colonial times, cricket and politics remained an inseparable thing in the Indian subcontinent. Ashutosh Gowariker’s "Lagaan" gives a hint of when did they began mixing together. But the whole episode of Bhuvan’s struggle of not paying the lagaan(taxes) to the British government —at times of monsoon crisis (ghanan ghanan)— becomes small and insignificant, if politics over cricket between India and Pakistan is taken into account in the past few years.

Just a few days before the commencement of Indian Premier League (IPL) 2018, Pakistani cricketers began to shower their ‘alleged’ love and sympathy for Kashmir, now when they know couldn't take part in IPL, they are showcasing their outrage on Twitter —not against IPL— but against Indian army and India as a state.

After the 2008 Mumbai attacks, perpetrated by Pakistan based terror organization 'Lashkar-e-Taiba', the Indian government has put a ban on Pakistani players from participating in IPL, and also severed cricketing ties with Pakistan. The only tournament in which India and Pakistan play cricket is World Cup and Champions Trophy. There were discussions in India even to boycott Champions Trophy. But the conclusion was “why should cricketers and cricket-lovers in India suffer from the actions of the guerrilla army of a rogue state?”

During its inaugural 2008 season, there were 11 Pakistani players inducted in the IPL. However, after buying Pakistani players for a hefty price, the franchise owners had to bear a loss with the ban on Pakistani players post 26/11. Therefore, in 2010, despite being included in the IPL auction, no Pakistani players were selected to play in the league as none of them showed their interest towards them, the prime reason was their insecurity. And after all, there is very little to lose for IPL in barring Pakistani players with the presence of enough world class players who make it exciting.

It began with Afridi’s tweet in which he raised his concern about the situation in the ‘Indian Occupied” Kashmir. Using the word innocent for the Kashmiri militants, who were killed in the valley last week on Sunday in a security operation by Indian armed forces. He also questioned where UN and other international agencies have been and why are they silent, which itself is ironical when UN which reportedly has listed 139 Pakistanis in its list of Terrorist, Afridi is appealing to the UN. It’s like a thief reporting a complaint to the cops.
The response to this tweet was enormous. It was possibly the first time when an active Pakistani cricketer officially chose to be involved in the Indo-Pak politics supporting the terrorist groups working in Kashmir brazenly. Afridi, in spite of hailing from Pakistan, which is also synonymously known as a terrorist state, the all-rounder cricketer, has been able to earn respect in the international cricket. His engagement in the never-ending, sometimes petty, Indo-Pak politics signifies his will to begin a political career in Pakistan, now that he will have to retire from Cricket.

IPL is a fast money generating event for cricketers all over the world. Afridi was sold for an approximate worth of 4.5 Crore of Rupees ($ 675,000) in the first season of IPL. So, his grudge is real & justified.

Among cricketers, Gautam Gambhir’s response was the first and impactful. According to him, what started on Twitter should also end on Twitter.
There were many other cricketers who responded to Afridi’s tweet.

Captain Virat Kohli, unlike his performance on the ground, chose to be politically correct. His response was ambiguous. "As an Indian, you want to express what is best for your nation and my interests are always for the benefit of our nation. If anything opposes it, I would never support it for sure. But having said that, it's a very personal choice for someone to comment on certain issues. Unless I have total knowledge of the issues and the intricacies of it I don't engage in it but definitely, your priority stays with your nation", he said to ANI.

But among all, World Cup-fame former captain Kapil Dev’s response was the most appropriate when he wondered why Afridi was even receiving importance. "Who is he? Why are we giving importance to him? We should not be giving importance to certain people.” I would rate his response a 5-star.

Shoaib Akhtar, who with India’s help, makes good money by pursuing cricket commentary, looks confused. First, he tweeted about the trending Salman Khan case but deleted that later. In his first tweet, he hilariously compared an Indian state of Kashmir with Salman Khan and some of the most troubled regions of the world like Yemen, Afghanistan, and Syria.“Kashmir, wants it to be 'free' like with some of Later, he moderated his stand in his next tweets. The deleted first tweet was only to grab attention.
At last, Pakistani cricketers have only ridiculed themselves. If they want to play IPL or international cricket with India, they should first make their army & ISI people realize that they would not be getting anything with the jihadist militants they create for Kashmir. Doing theatrics on Twitter is no solution and will only serve the purpose of entertaining followers. Also, as long as India plays a role in bringing riches and glory to the Pakistanis —actors, singers, cricketers— they do not feel the need of talking about the so-called uprising in Kashmir. The grumble begins if the perks coming from India is stopped.


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