Meher Mohammad Khalil    AFP
Meher Mohammad Khalil AFP

Should India and Pakistan play cricket? That is a question for the politicians to answer. Pakistan’s involvement in cross-border terrorism is cited as one of the reasons by the Indian government to stop bilateral ties. However, Meher Mohammad Khalil, the man who braved terror in 2009 feels that India should visit his nation to play the game that connects the neighbours.

He braved the bullets, terrorists and not caring about his own life and family, he steered the Sri Lankan team to safety. Mehmaan-Nawazi (Hospitality for guests) is deep-rooted in South Asian culture. Even under the spray of bullets, he knew Sri Lankans were his “guest”. Khalil emerged as a heroic face on the dark day of March 3, 2009. That day Pakistan’s face changed from cricket geography but Khalil’s life changed as well.

Sri Lankan cricketers assured safety by bus driver during 2009 Lahore attacks
Sri Lankan cricketers assured safety by bus driver during 2009 Lahore attacks

In 2009, mein sirf ek mamuli aadmi tha. (I was just an ordinary guy) It was difficult supporting my family and four kids two sons and two daughters. By the end of month it was the same pain, there was no money. Now I work equally hard but I am happier. And I went from zero to hero. The whole world knows Meher Muhammad Khaleel. My neighbourhood is so proud of me. They say we live in Khaleel s ilaka. People call me to functions, the teachers in my kids school tell them bring papa for school events. Now, I have (respect) izzat, Khalil told Indian Express.

The man has earned it all.

Brother India

Khalil’s tryst with terror was not new. His brother was a part of Hizbul Mujahedeen and died in Kashmir. He further believed that violence is not what his region requires and things could be won with peace. His actions proved he was beyond ordinary.

He told Sriram Veera, the journalist, to publish this bit: All I want is for India to come and play in Pakistan. Pura Lahore khada ho jayega kyun ki apna bhai aaya hai ghar mey khelne key liye (Entire Lahore would stand up and be with them as our brothers have come home to play).

Earlier, he also insisted that the Sri Lankan stars should visit Lahore for the T20I and he assured that he would drive them to the venue safely.