LAHORE/KARACHI/ISLAMABAD - Thousands of cricket fans poured onto the streets across the country to celebrate Pakistan’s 10-wicket win over the West Indies in the World Cup quarter final on Wednesday, which skipper Shahid Afridi called the best gift the team could give the nation on Pakistan Day.
The crucial victory provided the people of Pakistan much-needed relief from a myriad of crises that have struck the country one after another in recent months. Amid economic woes such as alarming inflation rates and rising fuel-prices, political parties jostling for power, a wave of unrest and targeted killings in Karachi and increasingly violent strikes by extremists across the country, the win over the once-mighty West Indies sparked welcome jubilation in a population weary of turmoil and uncertainty.
“The win spread joy across the country, as we were in desperate need of such a victory in view of the current deteriorating situation,” a cricket official said. President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani congratulated the nation and the cricket team on winning the quarter final and progressing to the semi finals of the World Cup, where Pakistan could potentially face archrivals India should the latter succeed in defeating Australia in their quarter final today (Thursday).
Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz chief Nawaz Sharif and Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif also congratulated the national cricket team and the nation on the victory in a felicitation message from London issued here on Wednesday. “This is the perfect gift for Pakistan Day. Our team has made us proud and we needed this especially because things are not going well in the country these days,” said a young man draped in the national flag, surrounded by others celebrating exuberantly on The Mall in Lahore.
“After such a long time, we have something to be happy about,” said a woman who had come to see the match on the big screen with her family in Karachi.