Now, terror strike at cricket match in Rashid's Jalalabad

More killings in Jalalabad, at a sports facility on Friday night, should make one appreciate local boy Rashid Khan's phenomenal climb to the top of the global stage in a much bigger way.

By LOKENDRA PRATAP SAHI in Calcutta
  • Published 20.05.18
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Sunrisers Hyderabad’s Rashid Khan

Calcutta: More killings in Jalalabad, at a sports facility on Friday night, should make one appreciate local boy Rashid Khan's phenomenal climb to the top of the global stage in a much bigger way.

As recently as Wednesday, Sunrisers Hyderabad leg spinner Rashid was taking questions from this Reporter (in Bangalore) on the continuing bloodshed back in Afghanistan.

Tone tinged with sadness, Rashid told The Telegraph: "If I'm to be honest, there are times when I wonder whether it's right on my part to be playing in such a high-profile T20 tournament, the IPL, when innocents keep getting killed by the dozens. Kya main theek kar rahan hoon? I do ask myself...

"I pray that Allah have mercy on all of us, that some sense gets into the head of those who simply kill. Nobody knows why this painful cycle keeps happening. Bahut mayusi hoti hai."

On Saturday, after getting details of the murderous blasts (four at a night-time cricket match) in hometown Jalalabad, Rashid would have asked that question many more times.

As Rashid was playing in the evening, against the Kolkata Knight Riders, he couldn't be reached for a comment but one can only imagine the volume of stress on the teenager.

Rashid wasn't at his best in a must-win match for the Knights, maybe because of the deaths of so many innocents.

According to the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), "at least eight civilians" were killed at/outside the Spinghar Stadium. At last count, 55 had been left wounded.

The UNAMA is expected to put out the most authentic reports.

A policeman inspects the site of the attack on Saturday. (AP)

Last Sunday too there had been blasts in Jalalabad - and less than 2 kms from Rashid's house.

Afghanistan's President Mohammed Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, who is a devotee of cricket, was quick to condemn: "The terrorists did not stop killing our people even during the holy month of Ramadan. By carrying out an attack in a populated cricket stadium, they have once again proved that they are not bound by any creed or religion. They are enemies of humanity."

Such is President Ahmadzai's interest in cricket that, schedule permitting, he watches the IPL and gets his Office to invite the Rashids over for a meal or just a cup of tea.

Strong condemnation also came from Imran Khan, a World Cup-winning captain and a force to reckon with in the political arena in Pakistan.

Imran tweeted: "Condemn the terrorist strike in Jalalabad on a cricket ground while match was in progress last (Friday) night. It is sad that the emerging Afghan cricketers, who have brought so much joy to their war-torn country, are being targeted."

Afghanistan have got Test status and make their debut, against India, in Bangalore next month.

Imran, by the way, is himself on the hit list of terror outfits.

The dreaded Taliban had once outlawed cricket in Afghanistan, but has denied involvement in the four blasts in and around the Stadium.

Well, when do the guns fall silent and the killings come to an end in Afghanistan?

Only the most bold would, perhaps, attempt to answer.