Shoaib Akhtar tears into Arnab Goswami on Indian news channel

Former Pakistan fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar (left) and Indian journalist Sudhir Chaudhry. Photo: Zee News screengrab
Former Pakistan fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar (left) and Indian journalist Sudhir Chaudhry. Photo: Zee News screengrab

Former fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar on Sunday lashed out at hypernationalist Indian journalist Arnab Goswami on an Indian news channel, referring to him as “Serena 5th Floor” Arnab Goswami.

Invited with Goswami — a former Indian batsman — to discuss Pakistan’s high-octane clash against India, the Rawalpindi Express criticised how Indian media always focused on promoting conflict with Pakistan. 

Speaking to Indian journalist Sudhir Chaudhry, Akhtar said Pakistan never used India as a political issue, adding that Indian politicians, on the other hand, used Pakistan to score brownie points with the masses. 

When Sudhir retorted by telling the fast bowler that Prime Minister Imran Khan lashes out at Modi frequently, and cited Ramiz Raja’s recent statement on Indian businessmen controlling cricket in Pakistan, Shoaib responded by saying: “Chaudhry sahab, that is our prime minister talking. The prime minister is in office. He will say these things.”

“I am talking to you about our media. Our media does not focus on war-mongering.

“I am complaining to you about the [Indian] media in general. The common man watches the media. If you gauge our media, there may be one or two [anti-India] news items. Over there, you have that ‘Serena Fifth Floor’ Arnab Goswami. I don’t know what he is,” said Akhtar, laughing. 

Akhtar said all Goswami does is do programmes that are anti-Pakistan. “So much hate? Have we ever thought about where we will go from here?” he asked. 

The former bowler said that the India he has personally witnessed is very vast and liberal, adding that the Hindus there are peace-loving and very receptive of Pakistanis. 

“This is the India that I know,” he said.

Akhtar’s “Serena” reference stems from an exchange that unfolded last month.

In an episode on the show “The Debate”, aired on September 15, Indian anchor Arnab Goswami, known for his jingoistic stances and anti-Pakistan narrative peddling, claimed to have a scoop on his hands. The rabble-rouser claimed that his “sources” in Afghanistan informed him that Pakistan Army officers were staying on the fifth floor of the Serena Hotel in Kabul.

There’s just one problem with that: the Serena Hotel in Kabul has only two floors above the ground level. Floors number three, four and five do not exist, save for in Goswami’s imagination. 

Goswami’s blunder was just one of a string of embarrassing attempts by leading Indian TV channels to somehow blame Pakistan for the Taliban’s rout of the Afghan government — what Shoaib Akhtar was referring to in the Zee News programme. 

In early September, as the battle of Panjshir raged on in Afghanistan, leading Indian TV channels were left red-faced when they aired “exclusive footage” of the Pakistan Air Force dropping bombs on anti-Taliban forces in Panjshir.

Readers around the world had a hearty laugh when it surfaced that the footage was not exclusive at all as it was extracted from the video game, Arma 3.

Hasti TV labelled the Arma 3 game footage as “exclusive” before Republic TV (as expected) and TV9 aired the same clip.

In the video, shots are seen being targeted towards an airborne plane as it navigates being struck.

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