Dubai: One of the most prominent sportsmen and cricketers in Pakistan, Shahid Afridi was caught on video using ‘naswar’, a form of dried tobacco that is chewed, in a Defence Day ceremony held on Thursday at the General Headquarters (GHQ) in Rawalpindi.
The high profile event was attended by a number of notable personalities, like Prime Minister Imran Khan, Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa and several celebrities from the entertainment industry.
In the video circulating online, Afridi, who is popularly known as ‘Boom Boom Afridi’ or ‘Lala’ (title for elder brother in Pashto) is seen sitting amongst the audience as the ceremony continues and covertly tucking what is widely believed to be a pinch of dried tobacco or naswar under his top lip.
After the video’s release, thousands of tweets about the incident have rolled in with netizens trolling and making witty remarks about the sportsman.
Twitter user Khadijah Ahmad Malik @khadijahM42 asked: “Shahid Afridi seriously? Right behind PM and COAS [Chief of Army Staff]… like seriously? We had to talk about their speeches but your naswar took the show away. #ShahidAfridi #GHQ”
Shahid Afridi seriously? Right behind PM and COAS…like seriously? We had to talk about their speeches but your naswar took the show away. #ShahidAfridi #GHQ— Khadijah Ahmad Malik (@khadijahM42) September 6, 2018
While, user @ihamzashakil was not surprised and tweeted: “I have seen him do everything now. Eating a ball, smashing [Indian cricketer Ravichandran] Ashwin to win the Asia cup, winning the world T20 and now having naswar. There’s a reason we all love Shahid Afridi.”
Sara Taseer, daughter of the late Pakistani businessman and politician Salman Taseer, made a quirky remark referring to the recent incident of liquor bottles being found in a hospital room where Pakistani politician Sharjeel Inam Memon was staying. Soon after the bottles were confiscated, Memon had insisted that the bottles did not contain alcohol but honey and olive oil.
Taseer @sarataseer tweeted: “Naswar? No way. It’s olive oil and honey. #ShahidAfridi #Naswar #SharjeelMemon.”
Some, like tweep @SherySyed_ took the opportunity to make cricket related jokes: “…Finally, now we know the reason of #Afridi’s early return to the pavilion…”
While journalist Ali Salman Alvi, @alisalmanalvi, gave a movie reference: “#Lala and naswar, still a better love story than Twilight.”
#Lala (Shahid Afridi) and Naswar, still a better love story than twilight. pic.twitter.com/JYqXdhtTt5— Ali Salman Alvi (@alisalmanalvi) September 6, 2018
Others believed that such incidents do not need as much attention, instead issues residing in the country need to be highlighted.
Zubair Torwali, @zubairtorwaliIn, tweeted: “…Taking naswar by ‘Shahid Afridi’ make headlines but not the disappearances, killing and maiming. The recent murder of ANP [Awami National Party] candidate buried under the debris of the Defence Day, but Shahid Afridi’s taking of naswar made headlines. Sorry for such a nation!”
Tweep @BefourMaryam thought that Afridi should be known for his philanthropic activities: “I don’t care if Afridi had naswar or not? Who cares? I wish ya’ll would actually pay attention to the things that matter. Like Shahid Afridi foundation and the kind of charity work Lala is doing!”
I don’t care if Afridi had naswar or not? Who cares? I wish ya’ll would actually pay attention to the things that matter. Like Shahid Afridi foundation and the kind of charity work lala is doing!— Maryam (@BefourMaryam) September 6, 2018
While Twitter user Myra Zafar, @MyraZafar, simply refused to believe that Afridi was using tobacco: “#ShahidAfridi eating Boom Boom Bubble Gum at GHQ. Haters will say it’s naswar.”
#ShahidAfridi eating Boom Boom Bubble gum at GHQ. Haters will say it’s Naswar.— Myra Zafar (@MyraZafar) September 6, 2018
In the past, Afridi has been caught doing questionable acts on camera. In 2010, the cricketer was seen biting a ball during a One Day International (ODI) between Pakistan and Australia. As a result, he received a two-match ban for allegations of ball tampering.