Irfan Pathan's dance with Rashid Khan

Amalendu Upadhyaya
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By Justice Markandey Katju

Irfan Pathan's dance with Rashid Khan
Irfan Pathan's dance with Rashid Khan

Afghanistan's historic victory over Pakistan on 23rd October at Chennai in the World Cup 2023 cricket tournament was a victory of David against Goliath.

After the match famous former Indian cricketer, Irfan Pathan danced on the cricket field with Afghanistan captain Rashid Khan, a scene which went viral on the internet.

Many Pakistanis have criticised Irfan Pathan for his dance, but in my opinion the criticism was silly and puerile.

Irfan Khan was naturally happy that Afghanistan, which has very good friendly ties with his country India, won the match.

But apart from that, being a Pathan, he would also be having sentimental connection with Afghanistan, the land of his ancestors.

There are many Afghans living in India whose ancestors came here for a variety of reasons, and they have been living here for generations. Indeed, India has been a country where people from different parts of the world came and settled here, and lived without fear of persecution.

As I have said in an article, India is broadly a country of immigrants, like North America, and about 92-93% of the ancestors of today's Indians were not its original inhabitants, but came from abroad (mainly from the north-west).

For instance, the Parsis came to India about 1200 years ago because they were persecuted in Persia due to religious bigotry, and ever since they have lived in India with dignity and honour, and achieved great success in business, law, the armed forces, the arts, etc.

The Jews came to India 2000 years ago, because they were persecuted by the Romans, and for 2000 years Jews lived in India with dignity and honour. They were never persecuted in our country, and there was never any anti-semitism in India. Of course, most of our Jews have now migrated to Israel, not because we persecuted them, but because they thought they had better opportunities in Israel.

We had Armenians living in India for centuries, though now most have chosen to return to their homeland after Armenia became independent.

We have Chinatowns in Kolkata, Mumbai, etc where many Chinese lived and were in manufacturing, trade and leather products, running shoe shops, Chinese restaurants, etc and as dentists. They sent their children to English medium schools all over the country, and in my own school, the Boys High School, Allahabad (where I studied from 1951-61) there were many Chinese students. There was a Professor of Chinese in my alma mater, the Allahabad University (where I studied from 1963-67) who told me his Chinese dialect was Hakka. Later, many Chinese migrated to USA and Canada, and I still speak to a few who were my schoolmates on WhatsApp..

When I went recently to Bhatkal, which is a town in Uttar Kannada district of Karnataka, I found many Muslims there who were very fair. When I asked how this was so, they told me it was because they were descendants of Yemenis and Persians who had come there several centuries ago, and they have their own dialect Nawayathi.

Many scholars, Sufi saints, etc. came to India from the Middle East, Persia, etc, and no one was ever turned away.

So, I see nothing wrong in Imran Pathan dancing after Afghanistan's victory. Pakistanis should grow up.

(Justice Katju is a retired judge of the Supreme Court of India. These are his personal views.)

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