Kamran Akmal apologises for racist ‘joke’ about Arshdeep Singh after Harbhajan Singh calls him out

Kamran Akmal apologises for racist ‘joke’ about Arshdeep Singh after Harbhajan Singh calls him out

The cricket veteran made an offensive remark on live television during the Pakistan vs India match and nobody in Pakistan noticed.
12 Jun, 2024

Former cricketer Kamran Akmal has apologised after making a racist ‘joke’ about Indian bowler Arshdeep Singh on a talk show during the penultimate over of the Pakistan versus India match. He was schooled by Indian cricket veteran Harbhajan Singh.

When the left-arm seamer was bowling the last over in their chase of 120 against Pakistan during the T20 World Cup match on Sunday, Akmal, who was invited to analyse the match on ARY News, said, “Kuch bhi ho sakta hai… Last over karna Arshdeep Singh ne hai. Waise uska rhythm nahi lagraha. 12 baj gaye hai [Anything can happen. Arshdeep Singh will bowl the last over. He doesn’t seem to be in rhythm and it’s already 12].”

The ‘joke’ about 12 o’clock and Sikhs implies that Sikhs are only alert at midnight, stemming from a historical event during Nader Shah’s invasion of India. To rescue women captured by Shah’s troops, Sikh warriors conducted midnight raids due to their smaller numbers.

Over time, this brave act was reduced to a derogatory joke implying that Sikhs only come to their senses at midnight. The implication has resulted in baseless stereotypes about Sikhs’ implied intelligence. The 12 o’clock ‘joke’ is common in India, but we don’t know why Akmal decided to repeat it.

Lashing out at Akmal for the crude remark, Harbhajan Singh tweeted, “Lakh di l*t tere [Curse upon you] Kamraan Akhmal… You should know the history of Sikhs before you open your filthy mouth. We Sikhs saved your mothers and sisters when they were abducted by invaders. The time invariably was 12 o’clock. Shame on you guys.. Have some gratitude.”

Akmal, in an X post on Tuesday, apologised for being disrespectful towards Sikhs. “I deeply regret my recent comments and sincerely apologize to Harbhajan Singh and the Sikh community. My words were inappropriate and disrespectful. I have the utmost respect for Sikhs all over the world and never intended to hurt anyone. I am truly sorry. #respect #apology.”

Apology not accepted

People are in no mood to forgive Akmal though. Comments under his post suggest the remark has left a sour taste in everyone’s mouth, particularly Sikhs and Pakistanis who expected better from him.

A user on X said that just because Pakistan is losing a match, doesn’t mean Pakistanis get to disrespect a whole community.

Another listed the number of times former cricketers have let the nation down with similar comments.

Others shed light on why one must think before they speak — especially on live TV.

Users are also pointing out that Akmal’s apology should be addressed to Arshdeep Singh, not Harbhajan.

Some, however, are just glad the former cricketer is owning up to his mistake.

The reason the ‘joke’ didn’t make headlines in Pakistan is likely because a lot of people probably didn’t get it. But that doesn’t make it any less offensive or worthy of being talked about.

Racist and biased language is often so normalised that people don’t see a problem when it is used. It has been ingrained in all of us through years of either being subjected to it or subjecting others to it. We throw around racial slurs without realising what we’re saying and it reflects a lack of education, awareness and empathy on all of our parts.

While sensitivity training should be a pre-requisite for all public figures, we need to collectively work on unlearning the way we speak about people, communities and, in some cases, even ourselves, if we wish to evolve as a society.

Akmal may not have meant what he said maliciously but whatever his reasoning may be, the fact that his ‘joke’ was aired and not corrected on the show says something about us and the standards we are setting as media representatives.

Even while commenting on our arch-rivals’ performances, irrespective of how emotionally charged we are, our public figures need to demonstrate some basic respect. There should be no space for racist jokes or slurs on television or anywhere else. As Pakistanis, we may not have been aware of the discriminatory nature of the ‘joke’ but now that we are, it’s important that we don’t use it again.


Sg Jun 12, 2024 03:43pm
Absolutely disgraceful. Only good for bringing internatioal shame. Most of these cricketers have little to no education and also grow up in xenophobic and misogynist environments. I hoped Aishwarya had also responded in similar words to Razzaq over his comments a while ago. But I guess it may even be better to just ignore these jaahils and media should also cancel their screen time.
Gurpreet Singh Jun 12, 2024 03:48pm
From what I’ve seen, there’s a culture of insulting people for their race, religion, age, gender etc. in the name of comedy, prevailing in Pakistan. A few months ago, Rameez Raja was caught laughing at a racist joke about Viv Richards. Unfortunately there are very few Pakistan cricketers with class. Wasim Akram is the only one that comes to mind.
Jamil Soomro Jun 12, 2024 04:01pm
Sikhs are one of the most loving and nicest people of India. A Sikh Cab Driver refused to take Cab Fare from me here in New York City when I spoke to him in Punjabi and told him I was from Pakistan. Shame on Kamran Akmal.
arsan sheikh Jun 12, 2024 04:12pm
shameful for us . our former cricketers keep on repeating religious jokes. no way we can claim to be a normal nation when such things happen on live tv its disgusting specially for few minorities left in pakistan
Dr. Salaria, Aamir Ahmad Jun 12, 2024 04:20pm
Think before you make your comments lest you have to apologize later.
Fast comment Jun 12, 2024 04:32pm
The same remark is common in India. Nobody apologize.
Sankar Jun 12, 2024 04:42pm
Not the first time he made a racisit comment also I am sure this is not his last time either
Najib Jun 12, 2024 04:57pm
What about the comments made on the same channel about Pathan? It's clear that there's a double standard at play here. Will there be any apology for the derogatory remarks, or is hypocrisy the norm? It's disappointing to see such blatant bias and lack of accountability.
Abhay Nandan Jun 12, 2024 06:26pm
Most of the current & even older lot of Pakistani players are either illiterate or semi literate and that reflects in their utterances.
Taj Ahmad Jun 12, 2024 06:31pm
Sports Talk show on social media and the participants attending must know the guidelines and how to follow it before speaking out with the host. Remember there is no apology after you spoke out.
Sal Jun 12, 2024 06:32pm
Well good to see Kamran owning up to his mistake after the twitterati pointed it out. Too bad, no such recourse exists for Pakistanis and Indian Muslims in India while the racist thugs (there) continue their verbal campaign unabated on conventional and social media as well as physical attacks against Muslims, which are often championed and financed by Indian politicians and police, alike, not unlike in erstwhile Palestine.
Ehsan Jun 12, 2024 07:42pm
Equally foul mouth was harbajan
Osama Jun 12, 2024 09:18pm
I didn't know this saying came from this specific scenario and I doubt Akmal himself knew the origin of this saying as it's a common saying and he also immediately apologized. It seems he was making a joke around the current time the match was going on in Pakistan and it being 12:00am at night.
Rafik Jun 12, 2024 10:09pm
Pakistanis and their bad behaviour
Fazal Malik Jun 12, 2024 10:36pm
I don't think Kamran Akmal has any historical knowledge about this. Indian are just ridiculous.
Ranjeet Jun 12, 2024 11:07pm
I am an Indian, and I didn't get the "joke" until I read the explanation here at this page. So this 'joke' is not common in India at all.
RIAZ Jun 12, 2024 11:55pm
nimesh Jun 13, 2024 04:04am
Kamran comes across as a genuine guy and should be forgiven as he has humbly apologized. By the way growing up in Delhi, I remember this so called 'Joke' well but please note it is no longer acceptable in India. It has caused anguish to a huge huge number of Sikh kids. I thought Abdul Razzak's quip was also pretty obnoxious.
Reddy Jun 13, 2024 05:19am
Uncultured comments
Harjit Jun 13, 2024 11:23am
Three things 1. Apology should be accepted. 2. Anchor should also apologise coz he didn't stop the person 3. ARY should apologise and put in place delayed broadcast time measures to not air such racist slants in future
SYED WASIM HAIDER Jun 13, 2024 12:05pm
Please don"t invite uncultured so called experts in TV programs. India outclassed Pakistan with their better planning.
Shaan Jun 13, 2024 01:47pm
Harbhajan Singh did no better by grouping all Muslims by saying Sikhs saved “your” mothers and sisters. First things first, he should also apologize to all sub continent Muslims for a derogatory remark that vast majority Muslims had nothing to do with and probably do not have an idea about. Keeping things in perspective, Muslims vastly outnumber Sikhs and just for that reason alone, Harbhajan’s comment was meant to offend a big cross section of sub continent society!
Majid Khan Jun 13, 2024 03:13pm
When will Ijaz Ahmed apologize for his derogatory remarks against Pakhtuns?
Shaista Jun 13, 2024 04:32pm
I am just horrified to be honest because I feel numbed at this insane remark - I feel incredibly loyal to a friend of Sikh origin whom I greatly admire as a Pak.
najeeb Jun 13, 2024 05:20pm
Akmal has been exposed. He is an illiterate savage. Sikhs are brave,straight forward and nice lot.Pakistanis have friendly feelings for them.
Sydney Jun 13, 2024 06:51pm
Kamran Akmal should be banned from all TV channels and even print media
Babar Jun 14, 2024 04:10pm
Apart from a handful, most of these PK cricketers have little to no education. Often they are spotted playing small club cricket and overnight propelled into the International arena. We have seen it endless times, their ego's over inflate, they become arrogant, for whatever reason they think they can say and or behave without accountability. Someone wrote here that Wasim Akram is the exception, I disagree, he is too uneducated, a complete wannabee, whenever I see him on tv, its cringeworthy. Top of the list is Shahid Afridi, I've never comes across someone so immature, uneducated, his views on women, life, religion, politics, the guy should think 10 times before opening his mouth.
king.kv Jun 14, 2024 08:54pm
I remember a funny remark made by azizi, a character in a satire show..Has be haal....Kamran Akmal topi pehen ke uble ande bechtaa achha lagega...a comment on his wicket keeping skills. I think azizi was also referring on his verbal skills. Shame on him.
Malik Jun 17, 2024 07:17am
Some ppl don't learn, and Akmal's brothers name along side Harbajan and Irfan pathan comes on top. They can go to any extent for fame.