LAHORE: A Pakistan-India cricket match is taking place, but the city wears a deserted look instead of a festive one. Unsurprising, as the sweltering heat would have forced viewers to melt faster than the Indian batting line-up.
Only at a few places large screens had been installed in areas such as Garden Town and Barkat Market.
“The final match between arch rivals Pakistan and India has surely given a clear message to the world that despite all the problems, we are one nation and we are united as a nation,” said cricket lover Talat Naqvi.
Naqvi was among a group of people watching the match on a television set inside a small grocery shop in Walton Cantt. He hails from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and studies at the University of Engineering and Technology (UET).
“It does not matter whether we win or lose against India. The real excitement is that we are playing the final match of the ICC Champions Trophy against our great rivals,” he said, adding that he has never witnessed such cricket fever and enthusiasm.
Another cricket lover, Waqas Ahmed, was watching the game on a big screen in Barkat Market.
He said the Pakistan team has given us confidence by making it to the final. He was quick to add that it is still just a game, albeit one which is being enjoyed by the people all over the country.
“We have much respect for our team due to its outstanding performance,” he said. “The champions trophy has become our nation’s pride. We are proud of Fakhar Zaman for scoring a century against India.”
A famous jalebi shop at Allah Hoo Chowk, where usually people stand in queue for a couple of hours before iftar, wore a deserted look.
Customers were in no mood to wait in line, and shopkeepers were not particularly concerned by the lack of work. You know something is up when Lahoris willingly put aside their love of food.
Motorcyclist Zeeshan Ahmed, a rare customer spotted at the jalibi shop, was optimistic about the match. “Pakistan will beat India today.”
However, he said it is just a sport, not a war, and it should be taken as a game only. “We should take it as an opportunity to watch a good match between India and Pakistan, no matter who wins the trophy.”
Published in The Express Tribune, June 19th, 2017.