Just ahead of the World Cup clash between India and Pakistan on Sunday at Old Trafford Cricket Ground in Manchester, a Jazz TV advertisement for its live coverage of the match has sparked controversy. The advertisement mocks the captivity of Indian Air Force pilot Abhinandan Varthaman in Pakistan.
The advertisement features a man sporting a moustache similar to Varthaman in an Indian cricket team jersey having a cup of tea, which is just like the video released by Pakistan Army after he was captured.
Jazz TV advt on #CWC19 takes the Indo-Pak air duel to new level. It uses the air duel over Nowshera and Wing Co Abhinandan Varthaman’s issue as a prop. @IAF_MCC @thetribunechd @SpokespersonMoD @DefenceMinIndia pic.twitter.com/30v4H6MOpU
— Ajay Banerjee (@ajaynewsman) 11 June 2019
The man refuses to answer every question asked about India’s strategy in the upcoming match, again a callback to the IAF pilot’s answers to Pakistani interrogators when he was asked questions. The Jazz TV advertisement also has the man praise the tea he’s given, much like the IAF pilot.
The brand has since received a lot of backlash on social media, raising questions about the insensitivity of the commercial, and the racial profiling of the Wing Commander.
Cringeworthy ads on both sides of the border ?? seriously guys, you don’t need to ‘hype up’ or market the match anymore specially with rubbish! it has ENOUGH attention already!It’s only cricket for God sake, and if you think it’s anymore than that then get a grip or get a life !!
— Sania Mirza (@MirzaSania) June 12, 2019
This is not the first instance where a video has referenced the pilot’s captivity, as in March 2019, a spoof commercial for a tea brand was also found circulating on social media.
Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman was captured on February 27 by Pakistani armed forces after his MIG-21 Bison crashed in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK). He had shot down a Pakistani F-16 jet which had intruded into Indian air space.
The IAF pilot was in the custody of Pakistan’s military till March 1, after which he was released in what Pakistan claimed was a “goodwill gesture”.