12 Oct World Cup 2023: Zainab Abbas breaks silence after India debacle
Pakistani sports presenter Zainab Abbas Thursday broke silence after she left India following a complaint being registered against her by an Indian lawyer over her “anti-Hindu” statements.
Abbas, who was in India as a presenter for the ongoing ICC Men’s World Cup 2023, left the country on October 9, with the international cricket body saying her decision was based on “personal reasons”.
“I have always felt extremely fortunate and grateful for the opportunities to travel and present the sport I love – this one would have been extra special,” Zainab said in a statement on X, formerly known as Twitter.
Recounting her days in India, Abbas mentioned that her daily interactions with everyone were kind, cheerful, and with a sense of familiarity — just as she had expected.
“I was neither asked to leave nor was I deported,” the sports presenter clarified.
Although she had not been asked to leave, Abbas said she felt “intimidated and scared” by the reaction that was unfolding online.
“And even though there was no immediate threat to my safety, my family, and friends from both sides of the border were concerned. I needed some space and time to reflect on what had transpired.”
“I understand and deeply regret the hurt caused by the posts that were circulated. I wish to make clear that they do not represent my values or who I am as a person today,” the journalist said.
“There is no excuse or space for such language, and I sincerely apologise to anyone who was offended.”
“Also, I am truly grateful to those who were concerned and reached out during this challenging time,” she said.
Abbas had reported on Pakistan’s opening match against the Netherlands on October 6 in Hyderabad, India, and was scheduled to cover other fixtures in Bengaluru, Chennai, and Ahmedabad.
But after a lawyer in India’s capital, New Delhi lodged a police complaint against her last week over her old tweets, she faced a huge backlash on social media, cutting her trip short.
Abbas, who is a sports journalist and commentator since 2015, became the first woman sports reporter and commentator in 2019 to cover the cricket World Cup from Pakistan, according to BBC.
In response to the fiasco, Foreign Office (FO) Spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch Thursday slammed New Delhi for the “unnecessary” controversy Abbas was dragged through, saying that the registration of the case was not the “right step”.
“The case against Zainab Abbas on unnecessary tweets is not the right action. Zainab is being dragged into an unjustified case,” said the spokesperson in response to a question during her weekly press briefing.
Baloch said that as host of the World Cup, it is the “Indian state’s responsibility” to provide security. She added that it is also India’s responsibility to provide a favourable environment for the Pakistani cricket team.