Heading to Rawalpindi? Why Shoaib Akhtar, 'Rawalpindi Express', is making obnoxious statements online!

First Imran Khan. Then Shoaib Akhtar? Is the former cricketer trying to please the Pak Army with his xenophobic hate comments against Afghanistan?

 |  3-minute read |   01-07-2019
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Once called the 'Rawalpindi Express', cricketer Shoaib Akhtar has now become a full-time YouTuber. Once, he used to literally throw cricket balls on batsmen. Now, he throws asinine comments on the internet.

There’s absolutely no reason to take him seriously as a cricket expert. If you want to take him seriously as an entertainer, well, that’s up to you — depending on your bandwidth for hateful comments, in full display as Shoaib recently mocked Afghanistan, not just on its — fledgling — cricket skills, but on the tragic fact of many Afghans desperately seeking refuge in Pakistan owing to civil war in their land.

Needless to say, many were repulsed and some were thrilled at Shoaib's 'plain-speaking'.

But why is he doing all this?

The answer might be more interesting than you'd imagine.

Shoaib Akhtar retired from international cricket after 2011’s World Cup. What he did after that holds little interest. But early this year, he started his YouTube channel, which became increasingly popular for his comments, interviews and cricket predictions.

Would you listen to what Shoaib Akhtar has to say about politics?

No.

But what if it comes with his observations on cricket?

The world may yawn, but it may just impress someone nearer home — like the shadowy rulers of Shoaib's country.

Shoaib was not very happy with Pakistan’s cricket performance in the World Cup 2019. But just ahead of Pakistan’s match against Afghanistan, he used a bunch of non-cricketing expressions — confusing Pakistan-Afghanistan’s chequered political battle with their cricket history.

And this is deliberate — toeing the army line.

According to him, and many in Pakistan, the Afghanistan cricket team has no standing of its own. They have been trained by India and Pakistan. Most of them may have been born in Peshawar. So, the team can be actually 'banned'.

 The logic is specious — the spite evident.

When we heard Shoaib Akhtar saying, ‘We still love you and we are still owning you’, we cringed, wondering why a once-admired cricketer was so dirtily muddying these political waters. 

The hard reality is that Shoaib is clearly looking beyond cricket and is desperate to attract the eye and approval of the powers of Pakistan. This will perforce need propagating extremism in some form or the other. That's fine — after all, the gains could be big for Shoaib who is clearly learning a trick from former Pak skipper-turned-PM Imran Khan.

Pakistan's cricket captain Sarfaraz may not take cricket advice from Imran Khan. But it is clear other cricketers in Pakistan have immense respect for their 'kaptaan', for having opened up this unexplored career vista before them.

Therefore, when Shahid Afridi displays his toe-curling misogyny in his book, don't be surprised. He only wants to impress his Big Boss.

When Shoaib lambasts Afghanistan, don't get agitated. All of them want to be Imran Khan when they grow up.

And, in their political infancy, they do resemble Imran Khan who in 2006 had rejected a women rights bill and who, even in his advanced age, said feminism degraded the role of a mother.

Clearly, Pakistan's top job requires little other than misogyny, xenophobia and the ability to make an ass of yourself in public. If you have a track record of some clever bouncing too, welcome to Rawalpindi, Rawalpindi Express.

Also Read: India vs Pakistan match: How cricket is making us very angry

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