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Couldn’t she just find a nice Indian boy?

Couldn’t she just find a nice Indian boy?

Now the Shiv Sena has a problem with Indian tennilebrity Sania Mirza marrying Pakistan’s cricket captain Shoaib Malik. To quote the right-wing Hindu party’s octogenarian chief Bal Thackeray: “Had [Sania’s] 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.” No surprises there.

It kind of reminds me of a comedy sketch in BBC’s Brit-Asian show Goodness Gracious Me. An Indian boy decides to come out of the sandooqcha with his British boyfriend to his middle-class Indian parents. They drop hint after hint to the clueless parents, who keep missing the lobs like Maria Sharapova on clay, until the gay couple declare the full nature of their relationship. The parents forbid him from being gay. Desperate for his parents to accept him, the boy goes up to them and says: “Look, I’m still the same person.” The mother hisses to her son: “You couldn’t have found a nice Indian boy?”

Fine, the Shiv Sena hardly represents benign, traditional, passive-aggressive parents. The punchline, on the other hand is an ace. (No more sports metaphors I promise, not even the very tempting one about Sania playing for ‘love’.)

But the question really isn’t about Hindu nationalism, or it isn’t just. Certainly, the far-right party’s brickbats hurled the way of Shah Rukh Khan would suggest that the Shiv Sainaks have it in for Pakistan-lovin’ Indian Muslims. Here’s the catch: would the reaction have been the same if Mahendra Singh Dhoni decided to marry Naseem Hameed?

Let’s take Bollywood films as a rough social gauge. They would have us believe love conquers the most recalcitrant of parents and transcends societal norms. Poor and rich. South and North. Police officer and the mafia don’s baby girl. But when it comes to cross-border love, the wilting Pakistani girl melts into the arms of her Indian saviour. Take the 1991 film Henna starring Rishi Kapoor and Zeba Bakhtiar (the Kapoors even bagged a bland Pakistani actress for the role!): Kapoor lands across the border and charms a dewy-complexioned Kashmiri in Azad Jammu and Kashmir. Cut to 2004, when Shah Rukh Khan stutters his way into the affections of the Pakistani Priety Zinta and carries off his bride 20 years late into the Indian sunset. Male chauvinism meets nationalistic chauvinism? I doubt if any if these films would’ve resonated with the Indian masses had the genders been reversed.

This also explains why the response on the Pakistani side has been so laudatory. “Parliamentarians hail Sania-Shoaib engagement” says one headline; the “FM felicitates Shoaib, Sania” says another. The latter goes on to quote Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureishi: “I would like to say mubarik to the couple…. This and other steps taken by civil society actually strengthens the hands of the Foreign Office.”

My favourite by far is the Pakistan Tennis Federation (PTF) President Dilawar Abbas, breathlessly hoping Sania will play for Pakistan because “Asian women traditionally follow their husbands, which is why I’m hopeful that someday she would be inspired by Shoaib to play for Pakistan.” There you have it: traditional Asian brides following meekly in the footsteps of their consorts. I doubt if the mini-skirt wearing Mirza would be able to play for Pakistan, let alone want to.

In Dubai – where the couple plans to settle – Sania Mirza gets to keep her wardrobe and her passport; her identity doesn’t have to be consumed by her marriage. But when she’s checking in her wedding trousseau at the Dubai airport, she’ll find it hard to leave behind the baggage of history, nationalism, and gender.

ambershamsi80x80 Amber Rahim Shamsi is an Islamabad-based freelance journalist who does not Tweet.

The views expressed by this blogger and in the following reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.


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944 Responses to “Couldn’t she just find a nice Indian boy?”

  1. United Pakistan says:

    Leave the nationality aside and look at the positive. Both have strong athletic genes. Such a combination has never been done in history of Pakistan atleast, don’t know about India. Mother has very strong, female athletic genes, good looking, etc. Shoab, do respect the guy, and though he is not the best Cricketer Pakistan ever produced, but still he is National Cricket and former captain, made it into the team from tens of millions of men that wanted to be in his shoes and play for the country, so he must have some super good athletic genes. So one can only wonder about the offspring of these two newly weds. Be it boy or a girl, both will have good strong, competitive athletic, good looking, intelligent traits.

    Sort of like natural selection anyway, where the best, most competitive people win, for the making of better prepared, and more evolved next generation.

  2. Zamir Ahsan says:

    Have we not given enough attention the marriage of cricketer who let down Pakistan? Having crowned Sania, have we not done enough?

  3. Rabia says:

    I saw some recent pictures of both Shoaib and Sania on a famous Indian news channel website – i think they were attending some bollywood do – It was interesting to note that Sania was wearing quite revealing outfits …hmmm…judging by the pictures i have seen of the female members of Shoaib’s family, they all came come across as very simple and modest in terms of their clothing…So why does Shoaib think it’s ok for his wife to wear revealing clothes and not his sisters? I think Shoaib only married Sania because she is more wealthy than him so will not care what she chooses to wear.

    • Naeem says:

      She is probably permitted or chosen open revealing outfits just to give the justification to people like us that Shoaib has made right choice.. What I guess. As our shallow humanity is as good as someone who weighs well.. We judge the women from her appearance, body formation and her linage.. So ..

  4. We should appreciate their great steps which should create positive energy, better friendship and future progress towards peace and prosperity between the two countries. It seems our politicians have not been so successful than these two players have accomplished.

  5. Shafaq says:

    Not to be biased, the way Pakistani media has portrayed their marriage wouldn’t have been the same if one of the male Indian cricketer got married with a Pakistani women Tennis player. Its a male dominant world and especially in Asia it has crossed the bars of gender prominence. So, we should be happy for both of them regardless of their nationality and pray they have a beautiful journey ahead and give them some privacy. :)

  6. ajay dutt tyagi says:

    Dear Friends,

    In India no one is feeling down when she decided to marry a Pakistani, here in Pakistan they are showing as they have won a Trophy, though its very nice that both are in love and now a married / happy couple.

    In our India we are not concerned whether who is this Mr. XYZ marrying Sania as its their own decision, Sania is not a national Property which should be kept Intact and must be looked a Fairy tale for every Indian Girl. Our Country is a liberal and consisting of numerous religion which is a great example in itself.

    But one thing, Sania who married a Pakistani Boy, Is now a Pakistani and her child will also be a Pakistani… than why she looks to play from India. We don’t need at all. it will be a sham on us that we let her represent our Country.. This is what you are seeing some agitation in our Country.. Its not against the couple but it is against the interest she is showing after marrying Mr. Shoaib. Its controversial.

    Pakistan is a Country which has self respect and She must show some respect towards this nation…

    • Shehzad says:

      Dear Ajay,

      I think marriage is their personal matter and it should not be mixed with any other sentiment. Sania should be respected in Pakistan like any other daugther or daugther in law and I think same should go for Shoaib in India. I know that India is a liberal country as you yourself said but then your attitude towards Sania’s playing for India doesn’t reflect this liberalism.

      After all she is a International player and she has given moments of pride to Indians on many occasions so things should be considered in that perspective. I think She deserve playing from India as She is still an Indian national and I personally think, she will continue it probably.

      Chouti Chouti batoun per naaraz nahi hotey yaara.

    • Khadim Momineen says:

      What is wrong if Sania plays for India? She has not given up her Indian nationality! So this agitation is quite unwarranted and shows another side of India. Actually, India is not easy to generalize about as it is a polymorphous country. At one good extreme is the secular Constitution at the other extreme is the Shev Sena and the Bal Thackeray’s and the Modis of India. Although, legally and constitutionally, India is secular and a number of Indians have that approach, unfortunately significant sections of the populace are not secular. A secular constitution is one thing, a secular society is another! On one extreme you have three Muslim Presidents; on the other you have religious riots. So there are a number of good things about India but quite a few not so good things about India. To show that India is going to be more tolerant, let Sania represent India unless she renounces her Indian nationality and/or loses her chance on the basis of her sporting merit!

    • Minhaj Zafer says:

      Dear All Contributors,
      I am a Pakistani and a Muslim as well, In my opinion every body is making a mountain of a mole. A very private affair is being discussed a family matter. please mind your own businesses, if you have any.
      On a different note India is a maturing democracy, where as we are nowhere where India is, this is evident from the responses from both the sides. Yes we have a history may be, a bitter one, but we still can do without these sublimal and open hate/biases to each other.

  7. Saad Khan says:

    Dear Amber,

    This is so true, I am delighted to read your analysis. Yes, it’s India that wants to portray it self as the modern, broadminded and progressive nation. So when a Hindu guy gets with a Muslim girl its all about that. But the fact that whenever the genders are reversed the truth is revealed with RSS/BJP and everyone questioning the Indianess of the person.

    I don’t know why they are so obssesed by it, is it a deep grudge of what actually happens here in Europe, where Hindu girls keep falling for Pakistani Pathans or some organised agenda of influencing people to think this way. As our young are very impressionable.

    Please do write to me.

    • Sandip says:

      ” So when a Hindu guy gets with a Muslim girl its all about that. But the fact that whenever the genders are reversed the truth is revealed with RSS/BJP and everyone questioning the Indianess of the person.

      Did it happen when Mansur Ali Khan (Pataugi) married Sharmila Tagore?
      Why unnecessary write senseless comments?

    • Aditya says:

      This is the main problem. You always see people from the perspective of Hindu/Muslim. It doesn’t matter a Hindu marries Muslim or a Muslim marries Hindu. It’s not going to solve any of your problems and you will not get anything out of it.

      What did you get out of Shoaib and Sania Marriage? Oh SHOAIB..Pakistani banda…and SANIA…Indian girl…just this feeling and a good topic to waste the time…..

      Live in present and concentrate on good things otherwise you are more than welcome to waste your time on such arguments and conversations on INDIA/PAKISTAN or HINDU/MUSLIM articles.

      Rise up..

  8. zahid says:

    Both are Muslim and have agreed to marry, I don’t think anyone has the right to give comments on their marriage.

  9. azhar says:

    We should Remember, Islam is not limited to geographical boundaries.

  10. azhar says:

    Why not put the other way? Charity begins at home.
    Couldn’t he just find a nice Pakistani girl?

    • saif shetty_Jai Bharat says:

      No offence Azhar but ‘marriage’ is not ‘charity’. I got your point. I agree with you anyways!

  11. Cdr80 says:

    Amazing number of comments on an entirely private matter. I have not seen this amount on comments from people on subjects relating to the betterment of the country or attitudes. This just goes to show, where the focus lies.

    Leave them alone to get along with their lives, the lady may play for whichever country she likes.

    Focus your energy on more constructive issues.

  12. Hamood says:

    Amber, some of your points are valid. However, you are missing the most important point i.e. Pakistani males would not care if an ordinary or celeb Pakistani MUSLIM girl will marry an Indian MUSLIM guy. So this has less to do with male chauvinism/nationality as you think it is and more to do with religion. Muslim men and women from all over the world marry all the time, nationalities is a non-issue among Muslims. You seem to be missing the most important point here. Indian men’s reaction to all this was unnecessary and uncalled for and they couldn’t grasp the fact that Pakistani men are better looking and more appealing than Indian men to all the women of the world including women.

    • Moksha says:

      India has top models like Milind Soman, Upen Patel, John Abraham, Dino Morea. Pakistani women drool over Shahrukh Khan, Ranbir Kapoor, Hrithik, Salman and 100s of others. I dont know even a single Pak actor/model, and neither do any women in India. What makes you say that Pak men are ”better looking” than Indian. And going by your logic since Sania is an Indian girl, Indian women are better looking than Pakistani women.

    • Majid Husain says:

      You are missing the basic point. Nationality and language are an issue among Muslims when it comes to marriage relationships. But socially India and Pakistan are not separate nationalities – they may be different “citizenships” but both are the same. That should not be surprising with so many divided families on both sides of the border. As to Pakistani men being better looking and more appealing than Indian men there is little to support that. However, with the maturity and level of development of India’s institutions one could say Indian men have more brains than Pakistani men.

    • gP65 says:

      Who in India objected to this marriage besides Ayesha Siddiqui’s family?

      • Mudassir Hussain says:

        Its surprising to read this question…there were demonstrations in India over this marriage.

        • gp65 says:

          sorry please check your facts. There were none. And Shivsena’s only point was that if she marries a Pakistan, she should play for Pakistan not India. Hardly qualifies as a demonstration.

  13. hani says:

    This is simply ridiculous how some people on the blog are commenting against the marriage. I mean to say :yes they are international stars but marriage is their personal matter and we should not confuse it with patriotism with a marriage of a person. Sania will be as indian as she was after marriage and shoaib vice versa. We dont have to make every issue a border isssue which could only be solved through war.

    Peace and best wishes to the couple

    move on loosers

  14. hasan mir says:

    She Florida trained , outspoken & polished & he a Sialkot rural! Man these are strange ways of cupid!!
    Leave them alone.

    • Amjad says:

      Let’s agree to say they are both passe athletes who have their best years behind them. Maybe this is a way to create some hype and cash in on some media money because they aren’t going to make it through sports any more. Incidentally I think the rural people in Sialkot are pretty good looking. I’m sure even a Florida trained Indian woman would be marrying up by hooking herself a good looking rural Sialkoti. Most Indian women would agree that Pakistani men are more handsome.

      • Maria says:

        Beauty is in the eye of the beholder; Some people like South Indian looks like Sania and some people like Pakistani looks. We are all accostumed to our own ideal of beauty and handsomeness.

        • Amjad says:

          Maybe you are right but Pakistanis have come to have a certain ideal of beauty and the South Indian version of beauty is not the typical Pakistani ideal of beauty. It is unusual to see a man from Sialkot travel to South India to find a wife though! However your point is well taken that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

  15. Mansoor says:

    I hope their love overcomes their marriage :) )

  16. ALY says:

    Unfortunately, Indian patriarchal laws do not allow a non-citizen husband of an Indian to get not-exacly- coveted Indian citizenship but the foreign wife of an Indian can, if she desires that is, easily get Indian nationality!

    Perhaps if there weren’t laws like these, some Indians would have been less dismayed at the prospect of their so-called tennis star, currently ranked 92, marrying a Pakistani.

    • Rahul says:

      I’m sure you know the law better ( ;-) ), but the point is this – India may not wish to , may not be tumbling over itself to give citizenship to a Pakistani citizen who has not even applied for it yet ;-) ). Especially if he is already a tainted cricketer (of which India already has well known large numbers, so what’s the value add) . Can you believe it? That’s it ! I can hardly believe a Pakistani in his right mind shall apply for Indian citizenship and have his family back home dragged over hot coals for the next decade by press, people and police.

  17. Abu Mujtahid says:

    Couldn’t a nice Indian boy find her?

  18. m says:

    Couldn’t he just find a pretty Pakistani Girl?

  19. Goodness Gracious says:

    Sania is “brave” because she married a person/player banned by his own country’s cricket board and who was involved in a scandalous marriage!

  20. Udayan says:

    Well said… Bravo!

  21. Malik Syed says:

    Sania Mirza said in her first interview with CNN post marriage “I was marrying a person, not a Pakistani”. Good.

  22. Ad says:

    India is a terrorist country. Everything that comes out of this country is of fanatic in nature. The hindu fundamentalists rule that country. Nobody can do or say anything, except the hindu fanatics.

    • N. Khan says:

      Can not agree with you more MAN! Very well said the reality-hope it really bite those fanatics!!

    • Goodness Gracious says:

      The article actually refers to Bal Thackeray’s rumination about Sania’s marriage to a Pakistani but fortunately the whole of India is not like him or like the Shiv Sena although there have been examples of Shiv Sena not cooperating with the judicial commission’s findings about religious riots.

    • Sandip says:

      You are RIGHT!
      That’s why we had 3 Muslim presidents, all top Bollywood stars are Muslims, a Sikh Prime minister.

      These Hindu fanatics are ruing the world!

      • shehzad says:

        the most absurd joke Mr.Sandip .
        All these Muslims in the so called top echelon failed to stop the mass murders, rapes of Muslim womenfolk
        in Gujarat , the humiliation of Christian nuns in Orissa. Mind telling me, what is the percentage of Muslims in the Indian Armed forces, Civil Services and in Intelligence agencies ????

        Cut that out , stop fooling yourselves and others .

        • amitabh says:

          Shehjzad miyan, the percentage of Muslims in the Indian armed forces, civil services and intelligence agencies is far better than the percentage of minorities in similar institutions in Pakistan. While we admit and are ashamed of the riots in Gujrat or stray events in Orrisa. Give India the credit it deserves for being a grand working democracy and a living plural society.

          • Abu Mujtahid says:

            How good is it as a “living plural society” and “a grand working democracy,” when Babri Mosque is demolished under its very eyes?

        • Faizal Ahmad says:

          Shehzad i am an Indian, but yes i am happy to be Indian despite of all odds. your mention to the percentage of Muslims in the Indian Armed forces, Civil Services and in Intelligence agencies is really valid but it will be worthy to find out the real factor for the absence of Muslim representatives in the mentioned fields. Blaming the administration blatently will be very unthoughtful. It is also mainly because of the economic factor of the community, less education, people mostly belive in madrassa education which ofcourse is encouraged but in such a competative world how can someone with less calibre be accomodated in a post which hold high responsibility. And on top of that there are people who act as agents and exploit the youth in the name of religion and become a party to anti social, anti national activities.

          • Apoorva says:

            @Faizal Ahmad:You are correct the main reason is politicians are not allowing Muslim masses to attain literacy.They want people to remain poor so that they can exploit them …..
            anyways I don’t think poeple in India ,who are educated, have anything against any religion….
            Sania Mirza is the face of the Indian Middle class :)

          • Goodness Gracious says:

            You are happy to be Indian in spite of the brutalization of Kashmiris, the non-implementation of the judicial commission’s recommendation on the religious riots, particularly, in Maharashtra and Gujarat? What about the down trodden minorities in India?

      • Ali says:

        The objections to the marriage do seem a bit absurd, but to use that to make a generalization about India is equally absurd.

        • gP65 says:

          Not sure that anyone besides Ayesha Siddiqui’s family objected to the marriage. And all they asked for is that their daughter be given a divorce.

          The rest of the media was just following the HE said , she said drama of Shoaib and Ayesha.

          Even Shivsena had only questioned whether Sania should continue to represent India after she marries Shoaib – they certainly did not say she could not marry Shoaib.

          And eventually she did get married and all high society people attended the reception, so clearly no-one really objected to the marriage.

      • Anil says:

        Well said sandip

  23. Leena says:

    To the writer,
    This is a very popular issue off late. And much has been said/writen about it in the Media. This was your opportunity to shed light on the optimisim surrounding the marriage. Instead I read a sarcastic article finding negative comments of people and putting them in one document. And the comment regarding Sania Mirza’s wardrobe is unwarranted. We need to seriously get over our judgmental attitude, and look at the bigger picture. Its very easy to mock and ridicule but very hard to support and applaud. I think this girl is brave, beautiful and very well spoken. I dont care who she marries. Neither should the rest. No one is asking you to love the couple. If you cant say something nice, dont say something hurtful.

    • Goodness Gracious says:

      Your advice: “We need to seriously get over our judgmental attitude, …”
      Contradiction: “I think this girl is brave, beautiful and very well spoken.”

  24. Honey says:

    Leave the poor souls alone!

    Sincerely you and the politicians have nothing else to do, that you would spend time speculating how their marriage will work out. No one care when Shahrukh and Amir Khan’s married Hindu women, but you care that Shohaib and Sania got married, a very legit marriage in Islam.

    • Asad says:

      i do not agree with shivsena on ‘any’ point .. but seriously.. couldnt she have chosen a better person (irrespective of nationality) instead of someone tainted and banished for wrong doings..

    • Sri says:

      I don’t agree with Shivsena on this matter. But don’t understand why are you spreading lies about them? They are not against her marrying a Muslim.. they are agaianst her marrying a Pakistani.

  25. sophie says:

    I still don’t get why Pakistanis are so thrilled about these two people marrying each other. But I do believe this article hits the proverbial nail on the head. For Pakistanis to be so in love with Sania is actually quite embarrassing for them and for Pakistani women.

    • Mansoor says:

      @Sophie..What you see on media and what you read here, doesn’t in any way represents Pakistan.

      Quote: Sophie says: I still don’t get why Pakistanis are so thrilled about these two people marrying each other.

  26. Khalid Mahmood says:

    The hype about this wedding is much ado about nothing. The cause is that both Pakistanis and Indians are starved of healthy entertainment and lack sporting outlook and facilities and therefore such petty matters become for them opportunities for amusement. They should get involved in sports themselves and build more playgrounds, tennis courts, swimming pools, gymnasiums and instead of being a tamashaee (onlooker) most of the time they should be part of the action. Masal mashoor hai shikaree shikar khalay, bay waqoof tamasha daikhay.
    Even otherwise, what is the point in glorifying a player who has been duly penalized by the cricket board and hasn’t he deliberately played much less to his potential for reasons other than cricket? For giving him the opportunity to play for the country and thus bringing him into limelight doesn’t the nation deserve better?

  27. BK Minhas says:

    Sania is no more in the right type of form to play tennis, neither is Shoaib to play any cricket. Let them make some money out of wedding ceremony publicity and disappear in the Dubai concrete jungle, until media rediscovers them when the honeymoon is over and some juicy stories start to pop up again.

  28. Uday says:

    Will Sania play for Pakistan or continue to play for India?

    More than nationality , money comes to the front. Where there is more money, where there is more advertising contract, Sania will be representing that country. Dont be surprised, if she starts playing for Dubai or Qatar.

  29. andy says:

    Did you see the wedding photographs? Could not identify her in such clothing..

  30. Skeptic says:

    No matter how advanced and so called Modern we become….larka walas will continue to have a superior position (whether real or imaginary) when it comes to the marriage contract. ANd it goes without saying for both the nations…the hypocrisy at work in the upper echelons of both societies is an outrage in itself…As for the couple, hope they stand by one another the same way, for the years to come!!! cause here we adore moles that can be made into hills and allow us to forget the more pressing issues at hand…

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