SRINAGAR: Member of Parliament and former cricketer Gautam Gambhir has strongly opposed the idea of resumption of cricket between India and Pakistan until militancy in Jammu and Kashmir.

Gautam Gambhir

In an interview with news agency IANS, Gautam Gambhir, said, “Ultimately, cricket does not matter. The lives of our army men do.”

Gambhir, who was handpicked by the BJP in Delhi in the 2019 parliamentary elections, argued that Indian cricketers get paid handsomely for playing for the country but army men defend the nation selflessly. “I haven’t done any favour to anyone by playing and winning for the country. But look at someone who is defending us on the Siachen or Pakistan border, risking his life for a small amount of money. They are the greatest heroes of our country.”

“It was another way of standing up for the country. So I agreed,” Gambhir, who now represents the East Delhi constituency in Lok Sabha, recalled.

Though his love for the military and the Indian Army uniform remains intense, he refuses to accept any honorary offers to join the territorial army meant for civilians in India. “135 million Indian soldiers are brand ambassadors of the Indian Defence Forces. They don’t need brand ambassadors to promote themselves,” news agency IANS quoted Gambhir as having said.

The former left-handed opening batsman believes that it is the moral responsibility of each and every Indian to speak for the soldiers who are taking bullets in Jammu and Kashmir, because of Pakistan’s cross-border militancy. “They give their lives to protect us. The least we can do is stand by them,” IANS quoted the cricketer as saying.

“Till the time Pakistan stops cross-border militancy, he said, India should not play cricket with their team. “I would have taken this stand with or without being in politics. I have always held similar views,” he said.

Recalling his famous run-ins with Pakistani cricketer Shahid Afridi, on and off the field, over Kashmir, Gambhir reiterated that he would never appreciate politicisation of the game. “Afridi’s statement during the 2011 semi-final match that he wanted to win the toss for Kashmiris (actually we won that semi-final). It was a ridiculous statement. We don’t talk about Pakistan’s issues, so why should talk about our issues? They can deal with their problems and we can handle our own issues.”

“But Afridi politicised the toss. No one appreciated that. So when we won the game I said that I wanted to dedicate it to the victims of the 26/11 Mumbai attacks. My stand remains. I say things which I believe. I don’t say things to make headlines. That is not something excites me,” news agency IANS quoted Gambhir as having said.


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