Former Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi courted controversy on 14 November for his comments on Kashmir. Afridi, speaking to students at British Parliament in London, suggested that Pakistan doesn't need Kashmir and it's unable to even handle the four provinces it has.
His comments were received in different manners in India and Pakistan, who have been at loggerheads on the issue of Kashmir for ages. While media in India played up the comments as an admission of Pakistan's incompetence, the quotes would have surely raised temperatures in Pakistan.
However, after a few hours, Afridi retracted his comments, suggesting that his remarks were misconstrued by the Indian media. In a series of tweets, Afridi explained that his comments were taken out of context.
My comments are being misconstrued by Indian media! I'm passionate about my country and greatly value the struggles of Kashmiris. Humanity must prevail and they should get their rights.
— Shahid Afridi (@SAfridiOfficial) November 14, 2018
My clip is incomplete & out of context as what I said before that is missing.Kashmir is unresolved dispute & under brutal Indian occupation. It must be resolved as per UN resolution. Myself along with every Pakistani support Kashmiri freedom struggle. Kashmir belongs to Pakistan. — Shahid Afridi (@SAfridiOfficial) November 14, 2018
Now for those who have followed Afridi's antics on and off the field would not be surprised with whatever transpired. On the pitch, the former cricketer was known for the big hits, while off the pitch he always had an opinion on matters relating to India-Pakistan relationship.
Another important observation about Afridi's public statements is that they have always been as inconsistent as his playing career, leading to a love-hate relationship with India.
We take a look at few of the public statements made by the 38-year-old that brew up a storm or two.
'Appalling and worrisome situation ongoing in the Indian Occupied Kashmir'
Earlier this year in April, the former all-rounder received a lot of flak for his tweet over violence in Kashmir. In his tweet, Afridi questioned the role of international bodies and United Nations as he spoke against the "oppressive regime".
Afridi had tweeted: "Appalling and worrisome situation ongoing in the Indian Occupied Kashmir.Innocents being shot down by oppressive regime to clamp voice of self determination (sic) & independence. Wonder where is the @UN & other int bodies & why aren't they making efforts to stop this bloodshed?"
Appalling and worrisome situation ongoing in the Indian Occupied Kashmir.Innocents being shot down by oppressive regime to clamp voice of self determination & independence. Wonder where is the @UN & other int bodies & why aren't they making efforts to stop this bloodshed?
— Shahid Afridi (@SAfridiOfficial) April 3, 2018
Afridi received severe backlash on social media for his tweet as Gautam Gambhir and Suresh Raina slammed their former foe.
Media called me for reaction on @SAfridiOfficial tweet on OUR Kashmir & @UN. What’s there to say? Afridi is only looking for @UN which in his retarded dictionary means “UNDER NINTEEN” his age bracket. Media can relax, @SAfridiOfficial is celebrating a dismissal off a no- ball!!! — Gautam Gambhir (@GautamGambhir) April 3, 2018
Kashmir is an integral part of India and will remain so always. Kashmir is the pious land where my forefathers were born. I hope @SAfridiOfficial bhai asks Pakistan Army to stop terrorism and proxy war in our Kashmir. We want peace, not bloodshed and violence. 🙏
— Suresh Raina🇮🇳 (@ImRaina) April 4, 2018
'Flag seedha karo' Before brewing up the Kashmir storm, Afridi received plaudits from Indian fans in February this year. The cricketer, who was posing with fans after a match at the Ice Cricket tournament in Switzerland asked an Indian fan to hold the folded tri-colour straight. In a video that went viral on social media platforms, the former cricketer could be heard saying, "Flag seedha karo apna" (Keep the flag straight)."
Afridi's gesture was loved by fans on both sides of the border as they took to Twitter to share their appreciation.
Lovely gesture by Shahid Afridi and waiting to find this girl’s photo with him. https://t.co/ynZzk4pvtg
— Ammara Ahmad (@ammarawrites) February 10, 2018
'We have not got this much love even from Pakistan'
For a Pakistani cricketer to say he has been loved more in India than in his own country is the most unimaginable thing to happen. There's no other equivalence to something like that but that's exactly what happened when Afridi came to India with his team for 2016 World T20.
After the warm reception Afridi and Co received in India, the former cricketer laid bare his heart.
"I've not enjoyed playing anywhere as much as I have in India. I am in the last stage of my career and I can say that the love I have got in India is something that I will always remember. We have not got this much love even from Pakistan," Afridi had said.
The comments, as expected, were heavily criticised back in Pakistan with even a case being registered against Afridi by a lawyer for hurting Pakistanis' sentiments
'A lot of people are here from Kashmir'
Afridi's India love, however, fizzled out soon as he gave rise to another controversy just days after for his remarks before the start of Pakistan's match against New Zealand in Mohali in 2016 World T20.
During the toss, to a question by Rameez Raja over support for Pakistan team, Afridi replied, "Yes, a lot of people, a lot of people are here from Kashmir as well," suggesting Kashmiris had travelled to Mohali to support Pakistan.
Considering the tense relationship that the two neighbouring countries share, it was obvious that the remark would raise few eyebrows.
'Indians not as large-hearted as Pakistanis'
One of the biggest controversies that Afridi led to was during the 2011 ODI World Cup. Days after losing to India in the semi-finals, Afridi said Indians are not as large-hearted as Pakistanis.
The comments were made by Afridi during a talk show on Samaa news channel back home.
"In my opinion, if I have to tell the truth, they (Indians) will never have hearts like Muslims and Pakistanis. I don't think they have the large and clean hearts that Allah has given us," Afridi had said.
He had also suggested against engaging in talks with India as he felt it was a futile exercise.
"It is a very difficult thing for us to live with them (Indians) or to have long-term relationship with them. Nothing will come out of talks. See how many times in the past 60 years we have had friendship and then how many times things have gone bad," he had said.
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