Pakistan’s political divisions set aside as cricket-mad nation unites for T20 World Cup Final vs England
- Political divisions will be set aside as fans will cheer for players that ‘represent the Pakistan flag and not a party flag’ during Sunday’s final vs England
- Even a march calling for early elections by ex-prime minister Imran Khan – who is himself a cricket legend – will probably be wiped off the front pages
“When it comes to cricket, the whole nation unites and forgets about politics and politicians. It’s quite interesting to see how helpless and left out the politicians feel that day because it’s for once not about them!” said Akbar Momand, a fitness and sporting business executive based in Islamabad.
Even if the Pakistan players somehow represented different political parties instead of different parts of the country, “we would still support them as they represent the Pakistan flag and not a party flag,” said Dawood Kakar, a chartered accountant from Karachi.
But they are just as happy to troll Indians after their superstar team were steamrollered in the second semi-final by an ominous looking England team on Wednesday
Ex-Indian cricketer Irfan Pathan, man of the match in his team’s 2007 T20 World Cup Final victory against Pakistan, riled up Pakistani fans after their semi-final win against the Kiwis’ by accusing them of celebrating in a distasteful manner.
“Neighbours, victories come and go, but you are incapable of being graceful,” Pathan said, in a Twitter post.
So when England’s opening batters Alex Hales and Jos Butler chased down the target set by India without losing a wicket on Wednesday, setting a tournament record in the process, Pakistan’s notorious memesters let rip at Pathan.
Most sarcastically asked him if India’s 10-wicket defeat – the largest margin possible – was gracious.
Some Indian fans even said they would support Pakistan against their common former colonial master England in the final because they admired Pakistani players.
Young Pakistani bowlers like Naseem Shah and Mohammed Wasim “have not come from money and worked really hard to get where they are and have shown a lot of heart, so I hope they do well,” said Krish Singh Rathore, an agribusiness owner from Delhi.
But Rathore said he was no fan of “some ex-Pakistan cricketers who keep spouting anti-India nonsense” on TV. “Had they been playing, I’d want them to lose!” he laughed.
But none of Pakistan’s fans expect a prospective world cup victory to bring down their country’s soaring political temperatures for long.
Pakistan is “too politically polarised to keep aside the differences”, said Momin Hassan Khan, a researcher living in Islamabad. A win for Pakistan in the final against England “might change the mood for a few days”, but public euphoria would dissipate quickly, he said.
A loss to England, on the other hand, “will be forgotten in a day to focus on our national sport: politics,” Khan said.