Team Akhtar or Team Niaz? The “National Hero” Or The “Nobody”?
The Happening: A “Hard Exchange Of Words”?
Dr Nauman Niaz and Shoaib Akhtar had a harsh exchange of words during live PTV transmission. pic.twitter.com/nE0OhhtjIm— Kamran Malik (@Kamran_KIMS) October 26, 2021
On Tuesday, October 26, 2021, Akhtar and Niaz found themselves falling out on PTV Sports’ show, “Game on Hai.” With Akhtar as the panelist, among others, and Niaz as the host, the two zeroed in on Pakistan’s triumph over New Zealand. Here, Akhtar’s remark on how Pakistan Super League’s (PSL), Lahore Qalandars, had rooted talents like Haris Rauf and Shaheen Afridi, roused a rather paranoid Niaz.
“You’re being a little rude and I don’t want to say this: but if you’re being over smart, you can go. I am saying this on-air,” Niaz retorted, cutting Akhtar mid way and cuing for the next guest to comment.
As the argument heated up, the live broadcast sought a commercial break. But even upon its recommence, Akhtar was palpably perturbed. Shortly, he took off his mic and soon took off himself too.
“A lot of apologies guys, a lot of apologies. I am resigning from PTV. The way I have been treated on national TV, I don’t think I should be sitting here right now. So, I am resigning. Thank you very much,” said a sorry Aktar.
To audiences therefore, Akhtar appears not to have uttered hard words for Niaz, at least on air. So does that exonerate him from all blame?
Akhtar’s Reaction: An Overreaction?
Multiple clips are circulating on social media so I thought I shud clarify. pic.twitter.com/ob8cnbvf90— Shoaib Akhtar (@shoaib100mph) October 26, 2021
In Akhtar’s defense, it was an “unpleasant” occurrence, with Niaz allegedly acting “obnoxious,” as he called on him to leave for “no rhyme and reason.” Justifying his jab at damage control, he said, “I tried my level best to repair the damage [in] the programme,” by requesting an apology, but Niaz’s refusal naturally led him off the show.
Seeing the fast pacer pace to pacify the feud and Niaz’s woeful wilfulness, turns the tables in Akhar’s favour, making us less likely to run his reaction as an overreaction. But what about Niaz’s?
Niaz’s Comeback: The Calm Before The Storm
I wonder why one has to be reminded @shoaib100mph is a star. He has been the best of the best, he shall always be. He has brought laurels to the country is undeniable. One side of the story always attracts nonetheless having been friends for ages I’ll always wish him the best.— Dr. Nauman Niaz (@DrNaumanNiaz) October 26, 2021
His tweet may have revealed him as relatively calm, but it surely roused storms lit by backfire:
Your tweet is even more stupid, than what you did there on live television. You are unprofessional and arrogant and you need to be sent home.— Mariam's Madness (@MaddyWithKhan) October 27, 2021
What’s the Twitterati’s Take?
Since the incidence, #NaumanNiaz has been trending on Pakistani twitter, surpassing 12.6k tweets, only below #Aryankhanbail #fftb #shahrukhkhan. Here, netizens appeared quite nuance with their views:
Some recommended hitting up the Pakistan Citizen’s Portal (PCP).
My complaint to Citizen’s portal as an overseas Pakistani. If You all do the same, we can ask PTV to ask for Dr Naaman’s resignation. pic.twitter.com/KHLdz5KECK— Waqas Ali (وقاص) 🌎 (@waqasmemon) October 26, 2021
Others took matters into their own hands, hitting Niaz with personal blows.
You are a low life person Mister. @shoaib100mph pe teray jaisay lakhon Qurban, You should resign and leave PTV.— Azhar Leghari (@AzharLaghari_) October 27, 2021
Matches are won by players like Shoaib not because of you and one more thing I want to say “do hell with you analysis”. #NaumanNiaz https://t.co/HbERBchViL
Some took to sacred texts.
Others found haven in Abraham Lincoln (although, he isn’t quite the saint we’d cite, but chalo)
And some exposed Niaz’s anchoring ethics, or lack thereof.
#NaumanNiaz blocked me in the 1st PSL season for passing very controversial comments, check the conversation, this man should not consider himself bigger than the legends comes in his program. 1st there are too many guests then he does not let others speak. #ShoabAkhtar was right pic.twitter.com/4J7BOXnNzG— Syed Arbab Ahmed (@SyedArbabAhmed) October 27, 2021
With audiences palpably not-at-all polarized, one wonders, what’s PTV’s take?
Is PTV being prejudiced?
With PM Imran khan expressing anger on Niaz’s (mis)behavior, Federal Minister for Information, Fawad Chaudhry called on PTV to form an inquiry committee.
As of October 28, PTV announced its decision not to air either Akhtar or Niaz until a formal inquiry had come to a complete end.
Well thats hilarious.— Shoaib Akhtar (@shoaib100mph) October 28, 2021
I resigned in front of 220 million Pakistanis & billions across the world.
Is PTV crazy or what? Who are they to off air me? https://t.co/514Mk0c64e
However, while Niaz may have been unaffected, Akhtar was certainly angry as he questioned, “Is PTV crazy?”
ڈاکٹر نعمان نیاز اور شعیب اختر معاملہ۔ pic.twitter.com/R9UN7cfIKP— PTV Sports (@PTVSp0rts) October 28, 2021
His anger was reiterated by PTI Senator, Faisal Javed, who remarked, “PTV.. you are completely off track… Restore the legacy #Respect
But How? Investigation Is At An Impasse:
The inquiry committee claimed it’s recommendation to take Niaz off-air came after interrogating him. But Akhtar refused to appear before the committee, calling upon it to settle for the available video footage, instead. So is Akhtar culpable of delaying the television justice he himself is demanding?
What's the popular opinion?
From celebrities, to sportsmen, and siyasatdan, all appear standing with Akhar, as evinced in the thread below:
Let’s start with Lollywood’s say:
Really applaud the grace shown by @shoaib100mph. He handled the insult heaped on him with so much maturity and patience. Anyone else would have probably lost his cool on air but this guy maintained his dignity. Signs of a good upbringing #sheerclass pic.twitter.com/BHQVO7boZW— Adnan Siddiqui (@adnanactor) October 27, 2021
Our national heroes have put us on the world map for years…#ShoaibAkhtar is our cricket Legend, I am absolutely appalled at the misbehaviour & disrespect shown to him by a tv anchor, no justification whatsoever!— MAWRA HUSSAIN (@MawraHocane) October 28, 2021
Sir, we respect you & THANKYOU for your services to Pakistan! 🇵🇰
Our personal favourite, however, was Muneed Butt’s Instagram story
Next, we’ll proceed with the politicians’ response:
A nation that does not respect its heroes stops producing heroes @shoaib100mph— Senator Shibli Faraz (@shiblifaraz) October 28, 2021
We as a nation seeking apology from Sir Shoaib Akhter.— Hans Masroor Badvi (@hansbadvi) October 27, 2021
He who exalted us with pride، The Living Legend, The Speed Star, The Rawalpindi express.
We Love you Shobi bhai.
I Stand With Shobi Bhai @shoaib100mph
We’ll cap it all with the cricket fraternity’s reaction:
Sikander Bakht, former fast bowler, spewed hate at Niaz for picking a bone with Akhar, that too, during a live transmission. Deeming Dr. Nauman “a nobody,” he said, “I stand with Shoaib Akhtar.”