SRINAGAR/ISLAMABAD: People in Indian-held Kashmir celebrated Pakistan’s victory over archrival India in the Champions Trophy final with defiant pro-Pakistan slogans and fireworks as shocked silence reverberated across Delhi following the historic upset.
Young men gathered in mass at TV shops across the Indian-held city of Srinagar as Pakistan belied expectations to thrash Virat Kohli’s team by 180 runs at the Oval in London.
Kashmiris, who traditionally support Pakistan in cricket, especially against India, took to the streets after the win waving Pakistani flags and chanting “Jive Jive Pakistan (long live Pakistan)” as fireworks exploded over Srinagar’s skies.
Anti-India sentiment runs deep in the Kashmir valley, where most people favour independence or a merger with predominantly Muslim Pakistan.
“This is the moment we were waiting for... It is a dream come true,” a Kashmiri youth shouted in support of the Sarfraz Ahmed-led Pakistan team. “Winning this trophy apart, I am celebrating my political sentiment as well,” Amir, who gave only his first name, told AFP outside the grand mosque in Srinagar’s old town of Nowhatta.
“This was long overdue.”
Earlier in the day Indian paramilitary forces patrolled various parts of the city but were withdrawn to avoid clashes with the civilians. “An India-Pakistan cricket game is always a unique challenge for us. We have to remain on tactical alert,” a senior police officer told AFP on the condition of anonymity.
Delhi’s streets were all but deserted after the game ended with fans storming out of public screenings after Hardik Pandya’s 76-run blitz ended with India staring down the barrel at 152-7.
While some fireworks were ignited at the National Stadium near India Gate, Sanjay, a disappointed fan, said they were “fireworks of anger”. “A loss against Pakistan is always a bitter pill to swallow. But you have to applaud their brand of cricket and their comeback in this tournament after being crushed by India,” Raju Verma, an auto driver, told AFP. Meanwhile, the streets of Pakistan’s cities lit up with celebrations. It was watched by hundreds of millions of fans globally, possibly a billion, and brought normal life to a standstill across much of the sub-continent.
“Wow wow wow unbelievable performance by team green. It feels like deja’vu after winning the 1992 WCup. I am over the moon #PakistanZinabadad”, tweeted ex fast-bowler Wasim Akram, who also compared fast-bowler Mohammad Amir’s masterclass in high-swing bowling to his own during his 1990s heydey.
People poured into bazaars and markets in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad to celebrate the win by blaring patriotic pop songs, as youths performed wheelies on motorcycles and waved flags as they dangled out of cars.