When Pakistanis and Indians cheered for the same team

Photograph via Dawn: Aisam Ul-Haq Qureshi (R) of Pakistan celebrates a point with partner Prakash Amritaj (L) of India, as they play against Rameez Junaid of Australia and Philipp Marx of Germany in a Men’s Doubles match on the fifth day of the 2009 Wimbledon Tennis Championships. — AFP

A Pakistani and an Indian. A Muslim and a Hindu. Both tennis players. They say they’re on the same wavelength on “every subject”. On every subject? I wonder. And then:

‘The politics never comes into it. He could be purple with polka dots for all I care,’ he [Amritraj] said, gesturing towards his partner.

But here’s something even more interesting: Qureshi’s people prefer a Hindu to a Jew!

Lahore-based Qureshi, 29, is no stranger to controversial doubles partnerships — nor difficulties with the national authorities.

In 2002, his decision to play doubles at Wimbledon with Israel’s Amir Hadad was denounced by the Pakistani tennis federation, which threatened to ban him from the Davis Cup team.

But there has been no repeat of the furore this time, showing how attitudes have moved on in the intervening years, according to Pakistan’s top player.

‘People in Pakistan have been wishing me all the best,’ Qureshi told AFP.

[…]

‘Whether they were Indians or Pakistanis in the crowd, they forgot, they were cheering for one team,’ Qureshi said.

‘I was hugging his parents, they were kissing me, he went to greet my parents after the match,’ the world number 278 added. [AFP report in Dawn, I first saw it in The Hindu.]

Having won round two, they will face Mahesh Bhupathi and Bahamian Mark Knowles in round three. May the best men win :)

3 thoughts on “When Pakistanis and Indians cheered for the same team”

  1. A trivial point – Prakash Amritraj is not Hindu, but a Christian. Of course it does not detract from your point, but just for factual correctness sake :)

  2. Not only is Prakash Amritraj not Hindu (as krishashok notes); he isn’t even Indian, if citizenship is what we’re talking about. Prakash plays in the Davis Cup for India but is an American citizen. Apparently, our Sports Ministry is rethinking participation rules; see

    http://www.thaindian.com/newsportal/uncategorized/sports-ministry-to-re-think-on-participation-rules-lead_100135400.html

    It’s important to note that most (all?) international sports bodies including the International Olympic Association, FIFA, FIH etc. are private organisations who have their own participation rules which are not the same as citizenship. Otherwise, how can the UK have four distinct teams participating in International Football: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland?

    The International Cricket Council and its affiliate, the BCCI, are both private bodies. When Ajay Jadeja was expelled from all forms of cricket for five years (I think), he took the BCCI to court and part of his argument was that the BCCI was a public body since its teams claimed to represent “India.” The BCCI, in its response stated that its teams represented the BCCI and no one else. Not many noted this, I think.

    The coming together of private sports bodies and nationalism – in World Cup Football, World Cup Cricket, the Olympics and so on – is a very curious phenomenon. Perhaps one of you guys would write something on it sometime.

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