World Cup 2019: Pakistan TV ad draws flak for mocking IAF pilot Abhinandan Varthaman

A Pakistani TV advertisement has played on Indian pilot Abhinandan Varthaman s captivity in Pakistan before the World Cup match.

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.

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.

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".