New Delhi: Last week was a good time for sports in Pakistan — the men’s cricket team made it to the 2022 Asia Cup finals and the women’s football team made history with its biggest-ever victory in beating the Maldives by 7-0 in the 6th South Asian Football Federation Championship. But some Pakistani men don’t care much for the latter. The women’s team returned home to a journalist asking the panel: “Why are the women players wearing shorts rather than leggings during the matches?”

It seems like having one’s knees exposed during a game is a bigger concern despite the fame and success one brings to the nation. The SAFF Championship was the first international tournament the Pakistani team competed in eight years. Nadia Khan became the star player of the match, leading with four goals. India, with a record of five winning titles in the tournament’s history, was knocked out of the championship for the first time.

And journalist Rafiq Khan, based in Lahore, has been receiving criticism ever since he made that comment. He landed in trouble on social media too for having raised the irrelevant and even humiliating question directed at the female football players. During the press conference in Lahore, the reporter wasn’t too concerned about the winning match against the Maldives but was irascible about the women’s outfits on the field.

“As you know, we belong to the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, which is an Islamic country. I want to ask why are these girls wearing shorts,” Khan asked the team and coach Adeel Rizki.

Only in Pakistan 😑#saffwomenschampionship @TheRealPFF

— Muneeb Farrukh (@Muneeb313_) September 15, 2022

But Rizki was just not having it. “We understand that we are an Islamic nation and that our values are very strong. Then again, it is important to be progressive in sports,” the coach said. Taking a more diplomatic stance, Rizki then added, “We have never tried to stop anyone as far as the uniform is concerned; it’s something we don’t control.”

Good vs bad journalism

For now, popular circles in Pakistan are abuzz with this discussion around the reporter and whether he was well within his rights to pose such a question. Pakistanis are questioning what’s good and ethical journalism — some have called Khan’s inquiry ‘misogynistic reporting’ — and of course, further dissecting the debate on what women should wear in sports.

Worst form of misogynistic reporting! We need serious ethical and sensitivity training in journalism

— Nayab Jan (@NayabGJan) September 16, 2022

While most women and even some journalists are appalled at Khan’s question, there are others who continue to defend him under the garb of ‘Islamic teachings’. Muqadas Farooq Awan, a celebrity journalist in Pakistan, commented on the sorry state of such kind of journalism in the country.

so a journalist ask a question why pak girls were playing in shorts since we live in an Islamic country,what kind of journalism is this?channel should train its journalist first,n jourlst must Should apologize for hurting women players’ feelings,Such journalism is not acceptable

— Muqadas Farooq Awan (@muqadasawann) September 16, 2022

Even famous figures such as TV host and RJ Anoushey Ashraf, squash player Noorena Shams, and stand-up comedian Aatif Nawaz came out in strong support of the players and slammed the reporter for having a  “regressive mindset”.

Someone should really tell that “journalist” to lower his gaze and look up the phrase “There is no compulsion in religion”.

— Aatif Nawaz (@AatifNawaz) September 15, 2022

But a few still go on to comment on how women from a Muslim country have a greater responsibility for representing their nation on an international level and keeping its religious and cultural norms ‘intact’.

Qabar me jakr yehi jawab dena that because we played after 8 years and won a football match that’s why we had disobey orders of Allah..and show our body to everyone..

Such hypocrite Muslims we are 🙁


— Hammas Rao 🇵🇰ᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠ (@Hammas_Rao) September 16, 2022

The question is totally legitimate and valid, all he asked is why couldn’t they cover themselves appropriately, maybe he didn’t do it in the right manner/context and could have advised privately but you can’t say “only in Pakistan”, totally dismissing Islam and its teachings.

— Captain Pakistan 🇵🇰⚔️ (@s1ratt) September 16, 2022

He’s right tho.. there should be a distinction between a Muslim player and a non-muslim player..all these women represent a Muslim country.. should respect the culture.

— undone (@shaat_up) September 18, 2022

(Edited by Humra Laeeq)

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