Taliban not impressed by Pakistan's praise of Sachin

India

The Pakistani Taliban have said the country's media should rein in its praise of Indian cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar, who retired this month after a glittering 24-year career.

The Pakistani Taliban have said the country's media should rein in its praise of Indian cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar, who retired this month after a glittering 24-year career.

Shahidullah Shahid, the main spokesman for the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), said Pakistanis should get behind their embattled captain Misbah-ul-Haq, despite any failings he might have as a player.

Shahid made the remarks during an attack on the media's coverage of the militants' slain leader Hakimullah Mehsud, killed by a US drone on November 1.

Newspapers and TV stations across South Asia have been plastered with tributes to master batsman Tendulkar, who bowed out on November 16 as the world's leading run-scorer in both Test and one-day cricket.

Pakistan and India share one of the fiercest rivalries in world sport and the near-universal outpouring of praise for Tendulkar, the only man to score 100 international centuries, was a rare moment of agreement.

In a video message posted online at the weekend, Shahid, flanked by two masked men with AK-47s, used cricket as an analogy for the way media covered Mehsud's death.

"There is an Indian cricket player called Tendulkar. He has been exceedingly praised by Pakistani media and also praised by a lot of Pakistanis," he said.

"Now someone should tell Pakistani media and other Pakistanis that no matter how good Tendulkar is, they should not praise him, it is against Pakistani nationalism and against loyalty to the country."

Misbah regularly comes under fire for his conservative tactics as captain and sedate batting style, which has earned him the nickname "Tuk-tuk".

"No matter that Misbah-ul-Haq is a substandard and low-level player, Pakistani media should praise him because he is a Pakistani," Shahid said.

After Mehsud was killed, leading Islamist politician Syed Munawar Hassan sparked controversy by calling him a "martyr" and saying Pakistani soldiers killed fighting Taliban were not martyrs.

Shahid defended Hassan's view, saying those who praised soldiers "fighting for America, secularism, democracy and British-made laws" were like those who lauded Tendulkar instead of Misbah.

The TTP have been waging a bloody insurgency since 2007 in an effort to enforce Islamic sharia law across the country and end Pakistan's alliance with the United States.

Shahid on Thursday confirmed the authenticity of the video to AFP by telephone from an undisclosed location.

<i>SAPA</i>

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