Mirpur Stadium in Pakistan?
Neither the full throated "Pakistan Zindabad" slogan nor the hundred or so flags of that country could impress the Pakistani captain Shahid Afridi, who did not have a word of praise or gratitude for the 24,000 enthusiastic supporters at Mirpur stadium witnessing the match between Pakistan and the West Indies on March 23rd. He just thanked the Pakistanis who had flown all the way to watch the game. Alas! This goes to show the value he has for the sincere and most misplaced support for his team in Bangladesh.
That the Pakistan team played with determination and clinical efficiency is above question and therefore deserves the support and respect of all cricket lovers. However, how far we take that support is an issue here. Is it necessary to wave the flag of any country when we show support? And that too a country such as Pakistan, whose army has been involved in a brutal genocide, murder and rape of unarmed civilians of Bangladesh? I will not go into the details to remind everyone what was happening on March 23rd forty years ago. Most of us know that. I wonder if the same scene would be enacted, the same flag waving done and 'Pakistan Zindabad' slogan raised even if the game were held on March 25? I wonder and shudder at the thought.
I know many, even my friends, will protest and admonish me, saying we should look ahead and stop living in the past. They will also say, "Don't mix politics and sports." I don't think I am doing either, I am just talking about self-respect and dignity. It was humiliating to many who found the atmosphere as ludicrous to sit through and hear comments from Pakistanis who said, "We did not know Bangladeshis love us so much" or "It seems this stadium is actually in Pakistan!"
Standing on the eve of forty years of independence we have so many mixed feelings of how much we have achieved or have failed. But one thing is certain: we are blessed to have our own independent homeland, our beloved Bangladesh. The war of liberation was our finest hour and we remember it with pride and pain. At the same time we want to be friends with Pakistan; we have no ill feelings towards its people. However, this relationship has to be based on mutual respect and understanding. Shouting 'Pakistan Zindabad' and waving Pakistani flags in a stadium will do neither. It will only result in being ignored by a captain who neither has the decency nor etiquette to acknowledge this misplaced support.