Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman, Imran Khan has been strongly criticised after his ‘bizarre’ remarks about foreign players who participated in the Pakistan Super League (PSL) tournament. In a widely circulated video that was apparently filmed during a sit-down with Supreme Court reporters who had been covering the Panama Papers case, Imran Khan was seen referring to the foreign cricketers as ‘relukattay’ and ‘phateechar’.
Imran’s comment pointed towards the foreign players that came to Pakistan and in his opinion were not renowned players. Imran’s comments that first appeared on social media after the video went viral received strong criticism not just from his opponents but followers of his own party. Leaders from the ruling Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PMLN) quickly seized the opportunity to criticise their arch rival. Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb lashed out at the PTI chief for using humiliating remarks for international players.
‘Imran Khan’s choice of words reflects his own mindset,’ she said, referring to his use of the word phateechar. She said Imran Khan’s earlier statement about the PSL, where he had cautioned against holding the final in Lahore, had created fear among foreign players, a few of whom did not come to Pakistan. Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah termed Imran Khan’s remarks the words of ‘an enemy of the country’. However, while criticizing Imran for his comments Rana Sanaullah himself made an equally bizarre claim and reportedly said that ‘Imran Khan is using the language of Hindu Baniya’.
‘Imran Khan should apologise to the nation,’ he said. Other parliamentarians, including Defence Minister Khawaja Asif, MQM MNA Izharul Hassan and some members of the Punjab assembly also condemned the statement.
The comments by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chief remained the topic that received most prominence on social as well as electronic media on Tuesday. Pakistan Super League Chairman Najam Sethi also took the opportunity to fire a broadside at Imran during his program on a private television channel. Sethi’s comment had a hint of personal enmity; Imran and Sethi have been at odds over the Pakistan Super League and have repeatedly exchanged accusations with Najam Sethi and his wife Jugnu Mohsin claiming that Imran Khan had personally asked foreign players not to come to Pakistan.
Imran’s comments were not only irresponsible but also derogatory in nature. The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chief is not only looked upon as a national leader and a statesman, he is the last person from which you should hear such demeaning words about players who came to Pakistan as guests. Despite the fact that few of his party leaders apologized for the comments Imran himself stuck to his comments in a television interview, there was also no official word from the party.
Imran’s initial apprehensions against holding the Pakistan Super League were legitimate, the propaganda against him that blamed him from stopping the foreign players from coming to Pakistan was condemnable but keeping in view his stature as a former international cricketer and a popular politician in the country, the choice of words he used for the players after the final should have been mature.