Cricket World Cup 2011
Afridi quoted 'out of context'
Shahid Afridi (AFP)
New Delhi - Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi said on Tuesday his derogatory remarks about Indians and the Indian media had been taken out of context as he sought to counter anger over the comments.
The World Cup skipper had praised Pakistan's media for being "100 times better" than India's in a Pakistani TV show aired on Sunday, and said that Indians did not have "big and clean hearts" like Pakistani Muslims.
The comments shocked fans in India, who had praised his efforts during the World Cup to promote harmony between two estranged neighbours whose diplomatic relations are fraught with tension.
Pakistan lost to India in the competition's semi-final in a much-hyped game that was attended by the leaders of both countries, in an event hailed as "cricket diplomacy". India then beat Sri Lanka in Saturday's final.
"I have enjoyed my cricket in India and I love Indian people," Afridi told India's NDTV channel in an interview aired on Tuesday.
"Don't take my comments negatively. I have always got a lot of love and affection from Indian fans.
"And I request the media to play a more positive role and not waste time on such trivial issues.
"The media makes a big deal of small issues. It is shameful. I have always done my bit to improve Indo-Pak ties but sometimes you say something and it is interpreted the other way.
"I have been quoted out of context."
In his TV comments on Sunday, which were aired at length and uninterrupted by Pakistani private channel Samaa, Afridi had said the approach of the Indian media was "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."
The remarks contrasted with his role during the World Cup leading up to India's triumph in the final.
On the eve of the semi-final clash between the countries, he had said that cricket always "brings these two countries together" and described himself as an "ambassador for Pakistan".
India and Pakistan have not played a bilateral cricket series on each other's soil since the Mumbai attacks in 2008 which derailed their peace process.
New Delhi blamed on Pakistan-based Islamist extremists for the attacks, which left 166 people dead.
India and Pakistan have fought three wars since the subcontinent was partitioned in 1947.