Pakistan represents the Muslim world?

India scrapped hard and scraped through for an impressive victory in last nights’ final of the Twenty20 World Cup — the ICC is calling it the World Championship to differentiate it from the ODI World Cup. This was a final played out by two very commited teams that are on the mend and on the up after what has been an embarassing year for both of them up until now.

I plan to write about the game in greater detail a bit later in the day, but want to pick up on what Shoaib Malik said in his post-match speech on the presentation-dias. To set the record straight, I have been watching Shaoib Malik grow with every game and in him and M. S. Dhoni, I believe Pakistan and India, respectively, have to strong, capable, inventive, innovative and fearless leaders who will do well for their respective countries. I do have a lot of time for both of them. However, I do believe, on the evidence of this one comment — which, I accept, may be harsh judgement — Shoaib Malik perhaps needs to be more aware of the World game that he plays.

When asked about the game I thought he said thank you to every Muslim in the world! I thought I had heard wrong and searched online for confirmation of what I had heard. I confirmed that that is exactly what I had heard. I immediately wanted to ask Shoaib Malik if he also wanted to thank Irfan Pathan, a muslim in the Indian team who bowled him out in the match — and indeed won the “Man of the Match”!

I then found this write-up on the same topic in a blog by Mukul Kesavan (Men in White). So rather than pen my views on this comment from Shoaib Malik, I am merely reproducing Mukul Kedavan’s words.

Then the Pakistan captain said something that was so irrelevant that I couldn’t believe my ears. So I looked at the highlights over and over again to make sure that I’d actually heard him say it. This is what he said to master of ceremonies, Ravi Shastri, who asked him a sympathetic question about the game after Shoaib had collected his loser’s medal:

“First of all I want to say something over here. I want to thank you back home Pakistan and where the Muslim lives all over the world.”

This is what he said word for word because it’s important to quote him correctly. The problem here isn’t the syntax, it is the sentiment. I don’t expect Shoaib Malik to be a politically correct intellectual, but it is reasonable to expect him to know the world of cricket that he inhabits.

It is a world where Muslims, Hindus and a Sikh currently play for England, where Buddhists, Muslims, Christians and a Hindu play for Sri Lanka, where Hashim Amla turns out for South Africa, where a Patel plays for New Zealand, where Muslims, Sikhs, Christians and Hindus play (and have always played) for India. Why would Shoaib think, then, that the Muslims of the world were collectively rooting for the Pakistan team or that they felt let down by its defeat? Did he stop to think of how Danish Kaneria, his Hindu team-mate, might feel hearing his Test skipper all but declare that the Pakistan team is a Muslim team that plays for the Muslims of the world? It is one thing to be publicly religious—Shahid Afridi thanked Allah and Matt Hayden and Shaun Pollock are proud, believing Christians—quite another to declare that your country’s cricket eleven bats for international Islam.

Is this the forum to talk about this? Shouldn’t Cricinfo and cricket’s online community stick to cricket and leave issues like this alone? No we shouldn’t, because Shoaib Malik chose to make it our business by saying it in team colours at the end of the ICC World Twenty20 final. He said something that goes to the heart of cricket’s loyalties, its culture, its plurality of race and faith and language. If Shoaib took in nothing else about the final, he must have noticed that the bowler who took his wicket was called Irfan Khan Pathan, that the Indian team’s most visible cheerleader, the guy who was hugging Indian players in turn at the end of the game, was one Shah Rukh Khan. I feel a residual distaste in even mentioning their names because both Shah Rukh and Irfan are admired in India for what they’ve achieved, not who they are. But sometimes it is important to spell things out and Shoaib could do with the instruction.

— Mohan


9 responses to “Pakistan represents the Muslim world?

  1. MohanK -thanks for pointing out Mukul’s blog. When I heard Shoaib’s comments I thought I mis-heard (putting it down to my own sleepiness).

    The comments were very stupid and as Mukul suggests, Shoaib needs a a bit of instruction in worldly affairs.

    Likely Dhoni says, Twenty-20 is going to be a great success in India especially since we are world champs now!

  2. Shoaib also said that “he promised that the team gave their hundred percent” . I could sense a feeling of fear more than fanaticism in his voice. I can only surmise that there is a sense of fear in him and the team especially to return back to a country that is currently highly unstable in thought and action to say the least.

  3. Ya, the “first of all” bit seemed to give it away.. It was more out of fear than anything else. The hullaballoo is as usual, wasted.

  4. I agree with Ajay here. It was so out of place that I thought Malik was making sure their house wasn’t ransacked in their absence or they weren’t going to land in Pakistan to a warm welcome of Tomato and Egg rain. Fans going crazy against their team is not an Indian phenomenon alone!

  5. Guys,

    Take a deep breath –and if time permits, a good long cold shower

    Shoaib is not all that articulate in English–as his speech certainly suggests. And he hasn’t had coaching on public speaking within minutes after losing a world cup final.

    What he meant to say was to thank Pakistanis back home and Pakistanis all over the world. The word MUSLIM came our inadvertently–substituting for Pakistanis..

    But then only a racist will recognise another–just like criminal minds think alike.

    Unfortunately, a significant propotion of Indian cricket followers abroad are high caste upper and upper middle class HINDUS who were able to gain degrees and hence a passport to employment in USA, UK, Canada, Australia etc–these will certainly recognise discrimination quickly as they have grown with it–within and without!!!

  6. cut the crap, sampath. substituting ‘muslims’ for ‘pakistanis’ does not show Shaoib Malik’s poor articulation. it only shows his stupidity, if not fanaticism.

  7. I agree with you Mystic fire. Would everyone agree had DHONI thanked all the hindus in india for theier victory? ( i myself wudnt have apreciated that had dhoni said that!!) .. guyz leave religion alone…. adn mistakes like .. intentional or unintentional.. wud lead to further escaltaion of things and Malik must be rapped for using such religious inclinations.
    As a matter of fact pakistan team was brilliant esp with come back in the end. They had almost won the match.. …

  8. Its really very unpleasant to hear such words from a person leading as big as a country Pakistan on World Arena. And I really dont know why most of the Pakistani players indulge religion in sports….
    Why they really intend to say Thanks to allah taalah on Mic in front of world. Religion is a personal matter and one should pursue it personally atleast wen attending a Multi-Ethinical (as where people from every faith are present) Function.

  9. And if they are really that RELIGIOUS then its always Ok….

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