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Pakistan, India trade parodies before clash

June 15, 2019 00:00:00

ISLAMABAD, June 14 (AFP): A video parodying an Indian air force pilot who was briefly captured by arch-rival Pakistan earlier this year has gone viral ahead of a highly-anticipated World Cup clash between the two cricket-mad nations.

The 33-second video shows an actor posing as handlebar-moustached Abhinandan Varthaman, who was shot down over the disputed region of Kashmir earlier this year and held briefly by Pakistan.

He was released in a "peace gesture" aimed at defusing tensions between the nuclear-armed South Asian neighbours, who have been fierce rivals since independence from Britain in 1947.

Before his release the Pakistani military aired a video showing Varthaman in custody, sipping tea and politely refusing to answer questions.

His politeness -- and praise of the "fantastic" tea -- saw him catapulted to hero status in India.

The latest video comes as mercurial Pakistan gear up to meet giants India at the World Cup in Manchester on Sunday.

The footage shows an actor with a moustache nearly as impressive as Varthaman's.

When asked: "What you are going to opt for after winning the toss? Who is in playing eleven?" he responds cordially with Varthaman's now-famous "I am not supposed to tell you that, sir".

At the end of the video, the pilot gets up to leave -- but the interrogator quickly asks him to "leave the cup", a clear reference to the trophy. The video, shared hundreds of thousands of times on social media, ends with the hashtag #LetsBringTheCupHome.

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