Former cricket captain Imran Khan was strongly criticised by Pakistanis on Tuesday after his remarks about foreign players who participated in the Pakistan Super League (PSL) tournament were perceived as racist.
In a widely circulated video that was apparently filmed during a meeting with leaders of his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, Khan was seen referring to the foreign cricketers as ‘fatichar’ (disreputable) players “from Africa”.
The final of the PSL, played in Lahore on Sunday under a massive security blanket, has been hailed by the government and Pakistan Cricket Board as a huge success at a time when foreign teams are not touring the country because of security concerns.
In the video, Khan can be seen commenting on the PSL final. “Only two or three (foreign) players didn’t want to come. The rest are all fatichar players who would have come anyway,” he said.
“I don’t even know the names of any of these foreign players. It seems they just caught players from anywhere and got them here. They caught some from Africa and called them foreign players. We don’t know who they were,” he added.
On PSL final: 'Phateechar' players, kisi ko Africa se pakar laey — Imran Khan, the gift that keeps on giving. pic.twitter.com/J3cOoXDKtA— Naila Inayat (@nailainayat) March 6, 2017
Earlier, Khan had criticised the government’s decision to go ahead with the PSL final in Lahore after a wave of terror attacks across the country killed more than 100 people and called it a “bad idea”.
After the final, observers said Khan started nit-picking during the meeting with his party’s leaders. “There were no top foreign players as they left before the final,” he told his party colleagues.
But more worrisome were Khan’s remarks about the origin of the players. His remarks that some players were called in “from Africa” were interpreted by his detractors as racist.
In the past too, Khan has been known to pass racist and xenophobic remarks, observers said. “This is not the first time he has said such things,” said journalist Nabil Ahmad.
In one instance, Khan praised the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan for their quick action against criminals in areas they controlled.
Nine overseas players agreed to travel to Lahore for the PSL final. They included Englishmen David Malan and Chris Jordan, and World Cup winners Darren Sammy and Marlon Samuels from the West Indies. Sammy, who led West Indies to two World T20 wins, captained the Peshawar Zalmi team to its triumph in the PSL final.
Many Pakistanis took to Twitter to criticise Khan’s remarks. TV anchor Mansoor Ali Khan posted a photo of Darren Sammy and tweeted that this “’Phateechar’ player was able to win the hearts of millions of Pakistanis”.
This is so vile and racist that I am thoroughly disappointed in Imran Khan. Genuinely respected his integrity. He is showing he has none. https://t.co/Wy5vLASUFv— Abbas Nasir (@abbasnasir59) March 6, 2017
Imran Khan is a disgusting, vile human being. And note the racist way he says "Africa" https://t.co/QPyz1wSX2h— Nadir Hassan (@Nadir_Hassan) March 6, 2017
This 'Phateechar' player was able to win the hearts of millions of Pakistanis ... can some one please tell his name to Imran Khan. pic.twitter.com/pJyLirWaRy— Mansoor Ali Khan (@_Mansoor_Ali) March 6, 2017