Pakistan’s former cricket captain and all-rounder Shahid Afridi recently released his autobiography, titled ‘Game Changer’. The book, co-authored by Afridi and journalist Wajahat S Khan, has some bits on Bharat-Pakistan relations and other non-cricketing matters that reveal the lack of self-awareness that many Pakistanis suffer from.
Interestingly, the Pakistani journalist Wajahat S Khan who has co-authored this book can be called the ‘Pakistani Barkha Dutt’ as he is a known peddler of the Pakistani Army-ISI line and has joined hands in the past with other dubious Indian journalists like Praveen Swami to slander the Indian Army.
Let’s look at some of these tidbits from Afridi’s autobiography, reported in The Quint, as Pakophile an outlet as one can get in Bharat’s English media –
“Afridi admits, without sugarcoating, that things between India and Pakistan have gone from ‘bad to worse’. He writes current state of affairs between the two countries are ugly and hurt both nations.
“Unfortunately – and I’m not talking about politics, diplomacy or proxy wars here … There were days when Bal Thackeray’s Shiv Sena alone would threaten our team when we toured. Now, with Narendra Modi government in power at the centre, the hateful era of Thackeray and the Shiv Sena pales in comparison with the BJP (Bhartiya Janata Party) government’s broader Hindutva policies towards Pakistan and Pakistan cricket.”
So Afridi thinks current state of affairs is ‘ugly’ and ‘hurts both nations’, whereas the earlier period when Bharat toured Pakistan (March 2004 and Jan 2006) in front of admittedly appreciative crowds was a better period.
Does data bear out Afridi’s rose-tinted memories? Let’s look at some of the Islamic terror attacks on Bharat around the period the tours, being praised by Afridi, took place –
Dec 2001 – Attack on Bharat’s Parliament by Pak-based LeT & JeM
Mar & Nov 2002 – 2 suicide attacks on Raghunath temple Jammu, 25 dead
May 2002– Jaunpur UP train derailment, 12 dead.
Sep 2002 – Akshardham temple attack in Gujarat, 30 dead
Dec 2002 to Aug 2003 – 5 bombings in Mumbai trains and buses within nine months leaving 71 dead.
Oct 2005: Delhi bombings, 70 dead
March 2006: Varanasi bombings, 28 dead
July 2006: Mumbai train bombings, 209 dead
The frequency of bombings got even worse after this, with the zenith of Pak-sponsored Islamic terror attacks on Bharat being reached with the ghastly 26/11 attacks on Mumbai.
In contrast, ever since the Modi Government came to power & Ajit Doval took on the mantle of NSA, apart from terror attacks on security forces in Jammu & Kashmir and Punjab, Bharat’s security & intelligence establishment have prevented attacks on civilian targets elsewhere. Innumerable ISI spy rings and Islamic State terror modules have been busted. It is safe to say that Bharat has stopped hurting as badly as it was from Pakistani-sponsored terror during the 2001-2014 period.
But Pakistan sure is hurting more now – from the surgical strikes in PoK after Uri, the Balakot air strike on Pakistani soil after Pulwama, the international isolation as witnessed in the designation of Maulana Masood Azhar as a ‘global terrorist’ in UN. Bharat’s much tougher stance on terror than ever before – including a hold on high-level talks, no to bilateral sporting ties, and rescinding of the MFN trade tag – has increased frustration in Pakistan which was hitherto used to bleeding a somnolent Bharat at will, while garnering international credibility through the facade of talks and sporting ties.
Pakistanis like Shahid Afridi have been brainwashed into believing that their Army is a knight in shining armor – he has spoken in great detail about his admiration for soldiers and the institution of the Pakistan army in the autobiography. Hence it comes as no surprise that Afridi is unaware that his nation’s Army and ISI spy agency are regarded as duplicitous thugs by the rest of the world. Pakistani generals have not allowed democracy to take root in the country, ruthlessly removing any elected politician who poses a challenge to their unquestioned authority over the country. And to retain this chokehold over the Pakistani mind, the Army uses two tricks – the Bharat bogey, and defense of Islam.
Afridi berates Bharat for electing Modi and following allegedly belligerent Hindutva policies, but is oblivious to the very real poison of radical Islam which has taken deep roots in Pakistan since Independence, and especially since the Zia-ul-Haq regime. Mass murdering global terrorists like Hafeez Saeed and Masood Azhar roam around freely in his country, and yet Afridi has the gall to act as if Bharat is the irresponsible nation!
Let us also remind Afridi that the bilateral cricket tours which he believes are a ‘backdoor for peace’ were actually used by his country’s notorious ISI spy agency to carry out reconnaissance for terror strikes.
Afridi goes on to add –
“Yes, Pakistan has its own problems. Sure, there are a lot of crazy people in our country. But our elected leaders don’t go around saying that they will break up India into a thousand pieces. That’s the difference between their leaders and ours. This new style of politics that has gripped India is disturbing, with their leaders, ministers, even Prime Minister Modi, going on about teaching Pakistan a ‘lesson’.”
Dear Afridi, a few months back your Minister for Railways, Sheikh Rasheed Ahmad, threatened Bharat, especially its Hindus, with nuclear holocaust in chilling detail –
“If anyone looks askance at Pakistan, those eyes will be gouged out. Then neither grass will grow, nor birds chirp, or bells ring in temples, because Pakistan is that fortress of Mussalmans which Muslims across the world look up to.”
The roots of the anti-Bharat hate on which the Pakistani establishment thrives go deep. Pakistan’s very formation was envisioned as a citadel of Islam, a ‘new Medina’ which would become the new leader and protector of the global community of Muslims, a worthy successor to the defunct Turkish Caliphate.
In a 1965 speech to the UN Security Council, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto (PM of Pakistan from 1973-77) declared a thousand-year war against Bharat. After Bhutto was hanged to death, the dictator General Zia-ul-Haq gave form to this 1000-years war with the ‘bleeding India through a thousand cuts’ doctrine using covert and low-intensity warfare with terrorism and infiltration.
The Pakistani Army’s obsession with destroying Bharat has been analyzed threadbare by the American analyst Christine Fair in her book ‘Fighting to the End: The Pakistan Army’s Way of War’ –
“Unlike conventional armies which seek only to protect territorial boundaries, the Pakistani Army, Fair argues, has taken upon it to protect the country’s ideological frontiers as defined by Islam.…Fair argues that for the Pakistan Army, defeat does not lie in its failure to win Kashmir despite its numerous unsuccessful attempts; defeat will be the point when it stops trying. Therefore, failed attempts are just “honourable and brave Muslims” fighting against “meek, pusillanimous and treacherous Hindus”.
This is the ugly reality of the Pakistani Army which Shahid Afridi idolizes. And so deep-rooted is the Muslim-supremacist and anti-Hindu mindset in Pakistani society that it mostly goes unnoticed. The Pakistani cricket team is a reflection of this mindset –
- Afridi himself once said on a Pakistani TV show that “They (Hindus of Bharat) can never have large or pure hearts like what Allah has given to us Muslims”.
- Cricketer Sohail Tanvir lashed out at Hindus when Pakistani cricketers were not allowed to participate in the IPL 2010 auction due to Pakistani inaction on 26/11 terror accused, saying “Hinduon ki zahaniyat hi aisi hai,” meaning, the Hindu’s are of such nature.
- The entire Pakistani cricket team went through a phase of intense Islamization, peaking around 2005-06 when the influence of the Tableeghi Jamaat (strict Islamic missionaries) was at its highest, and star batsman Yousuf Youhana converted from Christianity to become Mohammad Yousuf.
- Legspinner Danish Kaneria, a Hindu, was virtually abandoned by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) after he was banned for life by England and Wales Cricket Board for allegedly influencing team-mates for spot-fixing. In stark contrast, bowler Mohammed Amir who was actually jailed for spot-fixing was backed to the hilt despite a far more serious offence, and returned into the international fold after a 5-year ban.
- In 2014, Pakistani cricketer Ahmed Shehzad was caught on camera telling Sri Lankan player Tillakaratne Dilshan “if you are a non-Muslim and you turn Muslim, no matter whatever you do in your life, straight to heaven….else be ready for the fire.”
Even when Pakistanis migrate to the West, their anti-Hindu hate goes with them. This was proven when Pakistani-British actor Marc Anwar called Indians as “bastards” and “piss-drinking cunts” in a series of tweets. A Pakistani ice cream shop owner in USA had put up a sign outside his shop comparing Hindus to monkeys.
The indoctrination of young Pakistani minds against Hindus happens both formally and informally. A 2003 report ‘The subtle Subversion: A report on Curricula and Textbooks in Pakistan‘ prepared by a Pakistani think tank shows how the education system of Pakistan itself has indoctrinated successive generations of Pakistan against Hindus & Bharat –
‘For the upholders of the Ideology of Pakistan, the existence of Pakistan is defined only in relation to Hindus, and hence the Hindus have to be painted as negatively as possible. From the government-issued textbooks, students are taught that Hindus are backward and superstitious.‘
‘By propagating concepts such as jihad, the inferiority of non-Muslims, India’s ingrained enmity with Pakistan, etc., the textbook board publications used by all government schools promote a mindset that is bigoted and obscurantist.’
Hence it is no surprise that an ordinary Pakistani celebrity like Shahid Afridi has nothing to say on the rape & forced conversion/marriage of minor Hindu girls (dozens are abducted each month), but talks about humanity in Kashmir.
He is oblivious to the fact that in 1971, the Pakistani Army conducted the most brutal genocide the world has seen since the holocaust of Jews carried out by the Nazis – around 3 million Bengalis, mostly Hindus, were murdered, raped & brutalized by the Pakistani Army in a matter of months in 1971, precipitating the breakaway of East Pakistan to form the new country of Bangladesh.
Afridi proudly says that his 4 daughters are free to play indoor sports, but he won’t allow them to compete in public sports like cricket for ‘social and religious’ reasons. This is the kind of regressive mindset that is mainstream in Pakistan.
So while the liberal jamaat will play up Afridi’s autobiography and use it to push their ‘Aman ki Asha’ agenda, its best to take his ill-informed, self-unaware bluster with a pinch of salt. We are far better off listening to more aware and articulate Pakistanis like Hussain Haqqani.
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