Why This Pakistani Won’t Be Cheering Shahid Afridi [Updated With Afridi Reactions]

Pakistan cricketer Shahid Afridi, destroyer of bowlers, biter of cricket balls, speaker of his mind, and father to four pretty daughters, has upset a Pakistani columnist with his views on women’s cricket in Peshawar.

In an interview to a Pakistani TV channel, Afridi responded curtly to a question about young Pakhtoon girls taking to cricket by suggesting women should be confined to kitchens.

"Our ladies have great taste in their hands. They cook very well," Afridi says.

Here’s a clip of the interview:

The comment has upset Alia Chughtai, who writes about it in Dawn:

You are the former captain, current main squad for the national team, and further more someone whose face and hair sells Head and Shoulders, Pepsi with Sana Mir ironically and Fair and Lovely/Handsome, where you’re selling fair skin by actually being born fair-skinned.

And once you’re done with making your trust funds with the brands, beyond that, you represent Pakistan. You represent us. Men and women.

I, hereby, refuse to buy a number 10 jersey ever again to support Pakistan, because any man who thinks women solely belong in the kitchen, no longer can have my allegiance. And if this was any other accountable society, you would have apologised by now because the media would have made your life hell.

Here’s what I expect: I expect you as a national hero to understand the importance of your statements. You can be conservative, but your personal beliefs cannot push Pakistan back into the dark ages. In fact, being conservative has nothing to do with an equal status for women, however, being mysogynstic certainly does.

Pakistani women have struggled hard to be taken seriously, and have only recently been able to get to a place where barriers have begun to break.

It wasn’t long before she was trolled on Twitter for her views. But she’s been fighting back.

[UPDATED AT 7.35 PM] AFP reports that Afridi is upset with the publicity his comments have got. He insists his comment wasn’t carried in full. But looking at the clip, it’s clear he wanted the interviewer to move on to the next question when he says, “Jawab mil gaya na aapko (You have got my answer).”

Afridi says:

"I am shocked to listen all the stuff and read some on the social media." 

"It was a five-month old interview and my half answer was put on the net, which I feel is an attempt to malign my popularity."

[…]

"I have been a big supporter of women’s cricket and if you ask our women players they will let you know how I tried to get sponsorship for them." 

"There are a few people who are jealous of my popularity and they try to find something controversial against me.

"A big number of my fans are female and I have always respected them and tried to accomodate them whenever they want support."

Former international women’s player Kainat Imtiaz, who has played one ODI and one T20 for the country, defended Afridi. 

"(Afridi) has always been a great supporter of women’s cricket and whenever we used to cross paths in the national academy in Lahore he helped us and encouraged us." she said.

Perhaps, Afridi could take a look at the brilliant Feminist Afridi Tumblr and get a handle on what to speak on matters of women’s rights.

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Earlier: Pakistan prays for an Afridi son