The Pakistani Taliban have warned their country’s media to stop praising Indian cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar, who retired this month after a glittering 24-year career.
A spokesman for the militants said Pakistanis should get behind their embattled captain Misbah-ul-Haq, even though he was a “substandard and low-level player.”
Newspapers and TV stations across South Asia have been plastered with tributes to master batsman Tendulkar, who bowed out on Nov. 16 as the world’s leading run-scorer in both Test and one-day cricket.
Pakistan and India share one of the fiercest rivalries in world sport and the near-universal outpouring of praise for Tendulkar, the only man to score 100 international centuries, was a rare moment of agreement. However, Shahidullah Shahid, the main spokesman for the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) said it was time for Pakistanis to shut up about the “Little Master.”
“There is an Indian cricket player called Tendulkar. He has been exceedingly praised by Pakistani media and also praised by a lot of Pakistanis,” Shahid said in a video message, flanked by two masked men with AK-47s. “Now someone should tell Pakistani media and other Pakistanis that no matter how good Tendulkar is, they should not praise him. It is against Pakistani nationalism and against loyalty to the country.”
Misbah regularly comes under fire for his conservative tactics as captain and sedate batting style, which has earned him the nickname “Tuk-tuk.”
Shahid told media to rein in their criticism — though he scarcely gave a ringing endorsement of Misbah’s leadership.
“No matter that Misbah-ul-Haq is a substandard and low-level player, Pakistani media should praise him because he is a Pakistani,” Shahid said in the video published online at the weekend.
Shahid yesterday confirmed the authenticity of the video by telephone from a secret location.