From Memes to Cricket, my Pakistani Friend and I are Just the Same

The bond between my friend and I is a lesson of friendship in times of tension.

My Report
3 min read
Last year, we were told that we will be collaborating with the students of Institute of Business Administration (IBA), Karachi for some stories.

Coming from a family which moved to India during the horrendous time of partition, I’ve always had this fascination about Pakistan which I could never explain to anyone. Growing up, I have heard stories about our hometown near Lahore from my grandfather and how he used to teach driving to the British women at an age of 12, the new house in Lahore to which we were about to shift, the new cycle he had just bought, everything just sounded very fascinating with a hint of nostalgia in the way he spoke.

Last year, when we were told that we will be collaborating with the students of Institute of Business Administration (IBA), Karachi for some stories, my initial feeling was full of excitement.

The opportunity to get to know and work with Pakistani students was just too overwhelming. However, with no previous contact with any Pakistani of my age, I was a bit unsure regarding how they would actually be and whether our ideas will match or not.

We were asked to pitch stories on topics and issues that were common to both India and Pakistan. The entire class came up with so many topics from LGBT+ rights to food, from clothes to Manto, from music to poverty, I realised that both the nations have so much in common that’s its almost uncanny. With my pitch not getting selected, my group had to do a cross-border story on cricket, which I was happy to do.

Zeeshan, my team member, suggested that we do a story on how people on both the sides want to see the two nations playing bilateral cricket series but the politicians don’t allow that to happen.

I immediately agreed and we messaged Umer, our Pakistani counterpart for the story, to get him on board for this idea. Again, we were not really sure whether he will agree with our views and our story, but he loved the idea and had the exact same view as us.

Post Pulwama terror attacks, the wave of hyper-nationalism that has swept the country, I think such collaborations are more than just about learning to do good cross-border journalism, it showed me a side of Pakistan, which our jingoistic television channels never show, the humane side of it.

After having numerous conversations with Umer since then, I realised how similar we think, in the way we bash our politicians, share memes on Donald Trump, follow cricket religiously and want both the nations to have peace, not war.

Going through his Facebook posts after Pulwama, I saw exactly the kind of stuff I was sharing, which advocated peace and of course, made fun of media’s jingoism.

For the cricket story, we managed to interview former Indian captain Bishan Singh Bedi and they interviewed former Pakistani captain Javed Miandad, both had similar views on Indo-Pak cricketing ties.

“Our cultures are almost the same. I have more friends in Islamabad and Lahore than I have in Delhi,” said Bedi.

Recalling the love he received from Indian fans, Miandad echoed Bedi’s sentiments and questioned why the two countries cannot live together in peace.

“I and Imran Khan were awestruck by the public reception we received while we were staying at the Delhi Darbar Hotel near India Gate. It doesn’t matter whether you are a Muslim or a Hindu; these differences are created by the media and the political diaspora.”
Javed Miandad, former Pakistani cricketer

Since then, we have done a few more stories with other students but that first story with Umer will always remain close to my heart. A few days back, after reading a New York Times article shared by Umer, I suddenly remembered something he said to me once:

“I think you guys are going to become great journalists, please just don’t become like those loud prime-time show anchors.”
Umer, student from Pakistan.

It immediately brought a smile to my face.

(The author is a student of AJK MCRC, Jamia Millia Islamia.

All 'My Report' branded stories are submitted by citizen journalists to The Quint. Though The Quint inquires into the claims/allegations from all parties before publishing, the report and the views expressed above are the citizen journalist's own. The Quint neither endorses, nor is responsible for the same.)

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