The third season of Pakistan Super League kicked off with a trophy reveal this afternoon and the subsequent press conference saw some banter between the captains of the six participating teams.
When Darren Sammy was introduced as a "Khan" during the presser — a nod to him leading the Peshawar Zalmis to victory last year — Multan Sultan captain Shoaib Malik quipped that he's "never seen a Pathan like [him]."
Many people have interpreted Malik's remark as a racist dig at Sammy, a joke with a punchline that hinges on the contrast between typically light-skinned Pathans and Sammy's own dark skin.
The abundant laughter that followed Malik's remark suggests that many in the audience were in on the joke, that is, they recognised dark skin as inferior and deserving of ridicule and considered the joke acceptable.
Thankfully, some on Twitter disagree:
It doesn't need to be said that Malik as a popular figure is expected to demonstrate good taste in his public statements and racist jokes is a glaring failure on his part.
Brushing off careless statements like these as 'just a joke' only serves to perpetuate Pakistan's culture of denigrating dark skin or ethnic stereotyping or other irresponsible brands of humour. One hopes that the backlash to his remarks, though limited, still forces Malik to reflect on his responsibility and more carefully consider his words in the future.