Mirth and memories at play If it gets testy, deploy jokes

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  • Published 28.03.11

Islamabad, March 27: Pakistan Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani and his wife will be in Mohali to watch Wednesday’s World Cup semi-final, officials confirmed today.

US President Barack Obama, who has not been invited, may watch parts of the game on television, according to strictly unofficial Pakistani SMS jokes that reflect the excitement the match has generated here.

While Gilani’s motive is to provide a fillip to bilateral ties and the composite dialogue, Obama’s apparent objective is economic. He seems worried about the periodic cricket-induced cessations of dialogue between Indian BPO workers and their American clients.

“I don’t know about cricket but still I watch cricket to see Sachin play,” a Pakistani joke quotes him. “Not b’coz I love his play its b’coz I want to know the reason why my country’s production goes down by 5 per cent when he’s in batting.”

It’s this popular passion for cricket in the subcontinent that brought Gilani and President Asif Ali Zardari together last night to discuss Manmohan Singh’s Mohali invite to both of them. After his aides told Zardari only one of them could go, the President decided it should be Gilani.

“Prime Minister Gilani met President Zardari on Saturday night and it was decided the Premier will visit India to witness the match,” presidential spokesperson Farhatullah Babar said.

According to Indian officials, Gilani may arrive in Chandigarh on Tuesday evening because Singh wants to host a dinner in his honour.

An aide said: “Although Gilani does not get time to play cricket, he watches the World Cup matches with great interest whenever he finds time.”

In another friendly gesture, Zardari remitted the sentence of Gopal Dass, an Indian jailed in Pakistan on spying charges since 1984, “on humanitarian grounds”. PTI quoted spokesperson Babar as saying the move came on Gilani’s advice to “honour an appeal of the Supreme Court of India to the government of Pakistan”.

India’s apex court made an unprecedented request to Islamabad earlier this month to free Dass, whose term was to end by the end of this year.

Huge TV screens are being installed at many places in Pakistan for the match. Three giant screens are already in place at the Islamabad Stock Exchange, the bustling Jinnah Super Market and the Melody Food Park in the capital.

The consensus in the SMS world seems to be that Pakistan would win, but puffs of doubt persist about some of Shahid Afridi’s men. “What is Kamran Akmal’s favourite pickup line? ‘Can I drop you somewhere?’” goes a joke.

“What do Kamran Akmal and Michael Jackson have in common?” asks another, and answers: “Both wear gloves for no apparent reason.”

Some others are signalling their fears through witty monikers: Khuwab Aalam (coach Intikhab Alam), Misbah-ul-Duck, Kamran Khatmal, Abdul Mazzaq....

Such a sense of humour will serve fans of both teams well on Wednesday.