Former Indian cricketer Kapil Dev is right: We need not react to remarks made by certain people. He was referring to the provocative statement by former Pakistani cricketer Shahid Afridi that New Delhi must not violate the human rights of Kashmiris. In the first place, Afridi’s concern is so laughable because he does not see human rights violations by his own country’s forces in Balochistan and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. Nor is he bothered with the spawning of terror factories on his home soil with the explicit and the implicit backing of authorities, most notably the Pakistani Army and the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). He has no words of advice for his own administration, which has used terror organisations to disrupt peace in the neighbourhood, particularly in Afghanistan and Bangladesh, besides of course within India through its terror-sponsoring.
But Afridi’s remarks cannot also go uncontested because the statement hasn’t come off the cuff. It is obvious that the former cricketer has become a willing pawn in the hands of the extremist anti-India elements in Pakistan to spread propaganda. The Pakistani Army and the ISI are now using celebrities to spread their message of hate, perhaps as a means of countering damaging statements by a few of their public figures who had the courage to speak out against Islamabad’s and Rawalpindi’s links with terror groups and Pakistan’s loss of credibility in the eyes of the world. One may recall the recent observation of a Pakistani female actor, that when Pakistanis travel abroad, they are subjected to stringent security checks while Indians have it easy.
In the present case, it is good that senior figures from Indian cricket have come out strongly against Afridi’s remarks because it is not always the case that they speak up when they ought to. Besides Kapil Dev, Virat Kohli, Sachin Tendulkar, Suresh Raina and Mohammad Kaif have flayed Afridi for the remark and reminded him that peace in Kashmir was being disrupted by Pakistani elements within and outside the Pakistani administration. More such voices are needed. Lyricist Javed Akhtar too has tweeted, showing Afridi the mirror. Unfortunately, Indian narratives get weakened by remarks coming from responsible people within the country. The likes of Farooq Abdullah, for instance, have often chimed in with words that would be music to Pakistani ears. The Kashmiri separatists, who live on Indian largesse, but dance to Pakistan’s tunes, have had a free run, and this must end. One had expected that their days would be numbered with the advent of the Modi regime. Sadly, that has not happened.