Report By: Nina Rai
April 05, 2011: Probably realizing in hindsight that he may have hurt the sentiments of billions of Indians with his recent statements to Pakistani media,, the Pakistan cricket captain tried to make amends in an interview by stating that he had been misquoted.
It may be noted that Afridi on landing on Pakistani soil after his team's defeat against India in the semi final of the World Cup, told the press there, that the Indian mass media by and large was negative and it was his belief that Indians would never have hearts (as large) as the Pakistanis.
Thus in one stroke by these hurtful statement, he managed to erase off all the good-will and love showered on him by millions of Indian fans, for his graciousness and sportsman spirit even in defeat. On being asked in Hindi by the anchor of the private TV channel, why he had hurt the feelings of all Indians by saying that they were not as "large-hearted" as the Pakistanis?
Afridi responded by first congratulating the Indian Team on winning the finals of the World Cup, 2011. He then went on to say that he has been playing cricket for about 14 to 15 years now and found that such small issues were always blown-up by the media. He said he liked India, liked playing on Indian soil and loved the people of India, so urged all not to give too much importance to such minor things and blow it out of proportion.
When the interviewer stated that he was personally present at the Indo-Pak match venue, and there were Indians offering seats to Pakistanis, holding aloft joint Indo-Pak banners and treating them with so much hospitality, then how could he call all Indians not being large-hearted? Aridi said that he didn't remember exactly what he said before the Pak media.
But he said that his comments were taken out of context by press all over and this has hurt the people of India. According to him, one says one thing and it is interpreted in another manner. When Indians come to Pakistan, we show such large-heartedness towards them. So also Indians must show same large-heartedness to us here, he urged.
On being asked whether he was pressurized to say things like Indians being small-hearted, he said don't take it in a negative light. He said he was a free-spirited person and did not fear anyone. And said what he felt. In fact whenever there is any charitable event or any such occasion they come and participate because they want happy relations with neighbors and share in their joys and sorrows. That is what is taught by our religion too, he added.
Further more according to him in his entire career of 14 plus years, he had enjoyed playing the maximum in India. The love and value for cricketers is the maximum in here. "I really love the people of India, so please don't waste time in making such an issue of such petty matters, he said dismissing the matter.
When the interviewer conceded that some sections of the media might have been critical of the Pakistan team, Afridi sermonized that efforts should be made to bring the two countries together. This matter should not be left to politicians and at all levels efforts should be made to promote good relations, particularly by the sportsmen and Bollywood stars, who he said have such a huge fan-following in Pakistan.
The Pakistan captain Afridi also eulogizedsaying "What a cricketer ..... I have no words to describe such a great player." He then went on to say that he had the highest regard for Sachin, as he still played the game with passion and was an inspiration for youngsters, and even beats them hollow in the fitness department. He added that he still had with him, back home a shirt autographed by Tendulkar.