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India, Pakistan: A Celebrity Marriage Tests The Relation Between Two Countries

Categories: South Asia, India, Pakistan, Breaking News, International Relations, Media & Journalism, Politics, Sport

The relations between India and Pakistan have been characterized by rivalry and suspicion and every now and then you will hear new stories testing the relationship.

Sania Mirza [1] (24), is a renowned Indian tennis player from Hyderabad and Shoaib Malik [2] (28), is a Pakistani cricket player and former captain of the Pakistan team.

Shoaib Malik and Sania Mirza. Image Courtesy 'Deadpan Thoughts' [3]

Shoaib Malik and Sania Mirza. Image Courtesy ‘Deadpan Thoughts’

The news of their upcoming marriage (April 15, 2010) is a hot topic in Indian and Pakistani media and the political arena and the bloggers are buzzing about it as well.

Indian bloggers have been skeptical and somewhat critic about this bond. Greatbong at Random Thoughts of A Demented Mind broke the news with his trademark humor [4]:

The happy couple came today in front of cameras and informed the world of their desire to settle down in Dubai together, indeed a place that has given us many ambassadors of India-Pakistan unity like the Big D. While Shoaib Malik’s fans rejoiced (all three of them) and Sania’s admirers reluctantly deleted her “taken in action” pictures from their head drives, relationship experts warned Sania to be careful with her service and foot-placement since she would now be subject to ejection if she triple-faults.

Almost all celebrity affairs are not out of controversy and media dug out that Shoaib married an Indian girl in 2002 and later dumped her. According to Shoaib's kins, he had fallen madly in love with the girl named Ayesha from Hyderabad, whose pictures were sent to him and later found that the girl was not the same. However, Ayesha’s family came out with a proof [5] of marriage alleging that Shoaib married her over phone but dumped her later because of her weight problems [6]. Sania dismissed [7] this controversy by sending a twitter message that she and her family have known the truth all along.

Amit Verma at Indian Uncut is not impressed [8] by Shoaib's actions:

Go figure. This dude claims that he fell in live with a girl, and wanted to marry her, on the basis of a photograph. And then the actual girl turned out to be someone else. The thing is, if you fall for a freakin’ photograph, the actual girl is always going to be someone else.

However, there are supporters for Sania Mirza too. Raj from India hopes that [9] India and Pakistan can take a lesson from the love of two sportsperson. The blogger says:

It’s the people from two nations who can bring the change.

But the news of the marriage has created a ripple in Indian politics. The 84 year old Shiv Sena [10] chief Bal Thackeray wrote in an editorial in his party’s mouthpiece Saamna [11]: “Henceforth, Sania will not remain an Indian. Had her heart been Indian, it wouldn’t have beaten for a Pakistani. If she wished to play for India, she should have chosen an Indian life partner.”

Prem Panicker at Smoke Signals slams Shiv Sena for its double-speak [12]:

“On Twitter, many have mocked the party for its double-speak, pointing out that it cannot in one breath continue to claim that Sonia Gandhi, despite marrying an Indian and accepting Indian citizenship, is an Italian, while also claiming that Sania loses her right to represent India just because she has married a Pakistani.”

Amidst protest Shiv Sena reversed their statement [13] on the issue on Saturday, terming it her “personal matter”.

Renowned journalist and blogger M. J. Akbar notes in his blog [14]:

Sania still believes that she can continue to be a citizen of India. This is correct in theory; the practice might be another story. India and Pakistan do not permit dual citizenship. Pakistan law demands that if a citizen’s spouse wants to live in the country, he or she must become a Pakistani citizen.

Krishna Chaitanya informs [15] that:

Tennis Association of Pakistan wants to claim Sania and the Indian Association is not ready [16] to lose their prodigy.

Meanwhile Pakistani netizens are also discussing the topic.

Sikander Fayyaz Khan from Dulha Bhadera, Pakistan says [17]:

The news was like both the Eids combined, many times over, for Pakistanis but disappointed Indians to say the least. [..] Facebook, Orkut, twitter and every other social networking site was flooded with congratulatory messages of Pakistanis to each other. India's Sania was all of a sudden ‘Bhabhi ji’. People actually gathered outside Shoaib Malik's residence to celebrate, and not just that, in some cities people even danced on the roads on the beats of dhol. In India, on the other hand, there was a gloom. The announcement didn't go down well with most people.

Waqarabro at Rising blog comments [18] that Shoaib must divorce Ayesha properly, noting:

Many prominent cricketers have had committed such ridiculous acts and exploited life of many women.

Hina Safdar at Chowrangi congratulates [19] the couple and comments:

Thanks to the media for the exaggeration and extra fanatical coverage of the story, the very personal moment of their life has been turned into a cross border reality show.

Will the marriage of Shoaib and Sania be a step forward to peace and understanding between India and Pakistan? Whatever the reactions are love will win and it indicates that Indians and Pakistanis cannot keep each other away irrespective of how hard they try.