Pakistan

OKARA (Staff Report) – Authorities believe the man who hoisted an Indian flag at his house in Okara district of Punjab is a diehard fan of Virat Kolhi, and appears to be true Pakistani.

Umer Daraz, 22, is facing up to a decade in jail after he was charged Wednesday for jubilantly waving the flag of longtime foe India when his idol Virat Kohli made a match-winning knock.

Investigation Officer Muhammad Imran told Daily Pakistan that Umer Daraz plays cricket well and is popular among locals for his resemblance with the Indian cricketer.

“Although his act is against our country’s sovereignty and against the ideology of Pakistan, we could not find any conspiracy behind the incident.”

After his arrest, the young man had told police officials that he was a fan of Indian cricketer Virat Kohli and that he hoisted the Indian flag after India won first Twenty20 against Australia in Adelaide.

He was celebrating Kohli’s amazing knock of 90 not out, which set up India’s 37-run win in the first of three Twenty20 internationals against Australia.

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“I am a fan of Virat Kohli. I support the Indian team because of Virat Kohli. Hoisting of Indian flag on my house only shows my love for the Indian cricketer,” Daraz said.

Daraz said he had no idea that he committed a crime and urged the authorities to pardon him. He said he should be seen as “an Indian cricketer’s fan and not as a spy”.

According to his brother, Umer Daraz plays cricket with other village boys and is a member of team ‘India’. “We are, however, blank about why he waved the Indian flag at our house,” said Arif Ali, adding that Umer Daraz and whole family were patriots.

The timing was critical as India marked its national Republic Day on Tuesday.

Police were informed by the locals on Tuesday about a Indian flag waving on a house, at which they raided the place leading to the arrest of Umar Daraz.

A case was registered against him under MPO-16 and Section 123-A of Pakistan Penal Code.

Afterwards police produced Umar Daraz in a local court which sent him to jail on judicial remand. He is still in custody for further interrogation.

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Nuclear-armed neighbours Pakistan and India have a long history of animosity dating back to independence from Britain in 1947, and have fought three wars.

India stalled cricket matches against Pakistan in the wake of a 2008 militant attack in the commercial hub Mumbai that left 166 people dead and was blamed on extremists based across the border.

Last month, India refused to play a planned series with Pakistan after agreeing to stage the matches in the neutral venues of Sri Lanka.

The arch rivals last played a full bilateral series in 2007.