With NYC city in the midst of a fractious debate about whether an Islamic center and mosque should be built near ground zero, and the country closely following the twists and turns of a Florida pastor’s threat to burn copies of the Quran- the “Indo Pak Express” closed down the US Open on the eve of Sept. 11 with a message of peace and solidarity.
Pakistani, Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi and India’s, Rohan Bopanna, have been playing tennis together since 2003, and have forged an alliance to create a message of peace through sportsmanship. “The Indo-Pak Express,” as they call it — really gathered steam earlier this year when they started wearing sweat shirts with slogans reading “Stop War, Start Tennis” as part of a campaign backed by a group called Peace and Sport.
After a two set loss, Qureshi took to the microphone and stated: “There’s a bad perception that Pakistan is a terrorist nation,” Qureshi told the crowd in 23,000-seat Arthur Ashe Stadium. “We’re a friendly, loving, caring people. We want peace as much as you guys. May God bless us all.”
Following the match, the ambassadors of the two nations met and conveyed goodwill toward each others nations. “It’s the message it sends that India and Pakistan are playing on the same side,” said India’s ambassador, Hardeep Puri.