Lahore Qalandars, the defending Pakistan Super League champions, stirred up trouble with a divisive tweet criticising Indian fighter aircraft pilot Abhinandan Varthaman. With more than a million followers, Lahore Qalandars posted a picture of all-rounder Mohammad Hussain Talat sipping tea with the caption: “Je tu “Tea is Wonderful” hogya,” setting up a social media frenzy.
Wing commander Abhinandan Varthaman’s MiG-21 drifted into Pakistan in 2019 and was ultimately shot down there after losing contact with the Indian Airforce. Abhinandan ejected safely, however, he was subsequently apprehended by Pakistani villagers and imprisoned by their army.
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Watch: Offensive Tweet By Lahore Qalandars
Ye tu "Tea is Fantastic" hogya – @HussainTallat12 #QalandarHum #HBLPSL8 pic.twitter.com/fVzjKIq0ks
— Lahore Qalandars (@lahoreqalandars) February 16, 2023
Afterwards, Pakistani authorities published a video in which Abhinandan praised their personnel for giving him medical attention and handling him with professionalism.
“I’d like to put this on record: I will not change my statement even when I go back to my country. The officers of the Pakistan Army have looked after me very well, starting from the captain who rescued me from the mob, from the soldiers, and thereafter, the officers of the unit I was taken to. I would expect my army to behave in the same way. And I’m very impressed with the Pakistan Army,” remarked the fighter aircraft pilot in the video.
When a Pakistani official subsequently enquired about Abhinandan’s opinion of the tea, he replied: “The tea is fantastic, thank you.”
Since then, “tea is great” memes directed at India and Abhinandan have taken over Pakistan’s social media. The bandwagon was joined by Pakistani superstars including Fakhar-e-Alam.
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“Wishing you all a very Happy Fantastic Tea Day. A gentle reminder that we serve fantastic tea on the dialogue table as well. So, the choice is yours, [whether] you want to pay with a plane and a pilot or just have a nice talk and sip on tea for free,” he had tweeted.
The recent tweet from Lahore Qalandars, a PSL powerhouse, is, however, likely to further deteriorate already difficult ties with the Indian cricket body. This tweet may have an impact on PSL’s broadcast in India, as it is presently available on Sony Live.
Indians responded to the Lahore Qalandars franchise’s tweet by pointing out that Pakistan Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal had only recently urged Pakistanis to consume less tea in order to boost the country’s economy.
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