ISLAMABAD: Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi has delivered an astonishing tirade against Indian media for worsening political ties between the two great rivals.
Speaking to SAMAA, Afridi was repeatedly applauded by the studio audience and praised Pakistan's media for being "a hundred times better".
"As far as Indian media is concerned, their approach is very negative. I believe their role has also been very dirty especially in terms of worsening ties between our two countries," he said.
"If I have to tell the truth, Indians cannot have the kind of hearts that Pakistani Muslims have. They cannot have the big and clean hearts that Allah has given to Pakistanis."
His remarks cut across praise from the United States for so-called cricket diplomacy between India and Pakistan, whose leaders met for the semi-final that Afridi's side lost by a mere 29 runs.
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh invited Pakistani counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani to watch the World Cup match between the two nations last Wednesday -- the first time a top Pakistani leader visited since 2001.
Relations between the nuclear powers seriously deteriorated after the 2008 Mumbai attacks killed 166 people, which New Delhi blamed on Pakistan-based Islamist extremists.
But while analysts said the cricket had given the nuclear-armed rivals a fresh impetus to continue a sustained dialogue, Afridi seemed less optimistic.
"It is very difficult for us to live with them or have a long-term relationship with them," he said. "You can see how many times we have had friendship in 60 years and how many times relations got strained."
India and Pakistan have fought three wars since the subcontinent was partitioned in 1947. In India, on the eve of the semi-final, Afridi had called himself an "ambassador for Pakistan, so I should know what to say."
"I think it's a great sign for both countries and sports, especially cricket always brings these two countries together," he added. AGENCIES