Indian politicians may have been measuring up words on how to react to Imran Khan’s electoral victory, but felicitations from the film, sports and media fraternities in the neighbouring country are literally pouring in. Where Khan’s inspiring victory speech won lots and lots of hearts in the country, it appears to have touched the right cord across the border as well. Khan’s offer to go the extra mile in ever-troubled relations with India was responded to with all-the-best messages – if not by the politicos – by those who figure significantly when it comes to normalising the bitter bilateral relations through Track-II diplomacy.
Rishi Kapoor, who had been at the forefront of the baap-beta Twitter tussle between the fans of the two countries during the ICC Champions Trophy last year, tweeted a genuine wish for Pakistan’s PM-to-be and hoped that the tense relations would improve between the two ‘Mulk’ – a reference to his upcoming movie. Veteran entertainer Javed Jafri could have wished in no better words, “Nasruminallaahe wa fatahun Qareeb!” meaning “Help from Allah and a near victory”. Khan even found fans in the stars of today like Ayushman Khurrana and Gul Panag who both believe he is the one who could do it. So emotive was Khan’s complaint of being turned into a Bollywood villain that Raveena Tandon – numero onu of the 90s – felt “embarrassed by the hysterical condescending rant by some of our own news channels crossing lines of decency”.
Khan’s rivals of yesteryear Kapil Dev believes he will run the country the way he ran the cricket team. For Dev, Imran “is a born leader and I truly hope he can help his country”. Mohammed Azharuddin also expects him to play the new ball game in the same bold manner.
With Khan conveying to the Indians that he is the Pakistani “who has the most familiarity with India [as] I have been all over that country”, celebrated novelist and columnist Shobha De welcomes him with open arms, tweeting, “Come and have a hug in India! Congratulations”.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 30th, 2018.