With Bopanna by his side, Qureshi hopes to cheer up Pakistan

Last Updated: Sep 09, 2010, 11:26 AM IST

New York: Flood-ravaged and shamed by a
betting scam involving its cricketers, Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi
knows Pakistan has little to cheer about right now but he is
confident of changing the mood back home for the better by
lifting the US Open men`s doubles trophy with Indian partner
Rohan Bopanna.

"I can`t thank Rohan enough to be my partner and playing
with me. I really feel very lucky to have a partner like him
and a friend like him. Pakistan has been going through a lot
for the last two or three years from all the terrorist attacks
and the flooding now for the last few months and the cricket
scandal, also," Qureshi said after he and Bopanna entered the
finals of the season`s last Grand Slam where they will take on
top seeds Bob and Mike Bryan.

Qureshi is also in the mixed doubles final with Czech
partner Kveta Peschke and he is hoping to lift both the the
titles.

"I`m just very happy and proud that I can send positive
news back home and good news for people to cheer about. It`s
just been an unbelievable journey, and I just hope I keep
winning matches for Pakistan and can hopefully get either one
of these titles or both titles back home. That would be great
thing," he said.

The pair, nicknamed `The Indo-Pak Express`, were cheered
by the UN ambassadors from their countries during the 7-6 (5)
6-4 semifinal win over Argentines Eduardo Schwank and Horacio
Zeballos. Both the players said they were glad to have the two
dignitaries applauding them in the stands.

"...we are really glad that they came out and watched us
play. It was pretty hard out there to come on them. We met
them after our match, so, you know, really thankful to them
that they came out, took some time and came out to watch us
play today," he said.

Bopanna and Qureshi, play wearing T-shirts with the
message `Stop War, Start Tennis`, and the Pakistani said
becoming a part of the movement has changed their lives.

"I think what changed both our careers was when we became
ambassadors of peace, by peace in sports. The first time we
initiated our campaign about Stop War and Start Tennis, I
think that was the main week I think everybody started to
taking notice of it," Qureshi said.

Qureshi thanked Bopanna for helping him promote the game
in his trouble-torn country.

"I think people have realised that Rohan is helping me
promote this game in Pakistan. So far everybody has been
appreciating what we are doing. He probably doesn`t know, but
he`s very, very popular in Pakistan. Every time my news come,
his name is right there next to me. So he`s helping me to
promote this game in Pakistan, and I just can`t thank him
enough for doing that," he said.

Qureshi said after winning the title, he he also hopes to
clear some "misconceptions" about Muslims in America.

"I do want to say a few words, and hopefully I get a
chance and opportunity. I feel like the western world and
America, they have a very wrong perception about Muslim and
Pakistan. We do have terrorist groups, we do have extremists,
but I feel like every religion there are extremists there. You
know, it doesn`t mean that the whole nation is terrorist or
extremist," he said.

"Pakistan is a very peace loving country. Everybody loves
sports. I think everybody wants peace, as well. The only
reason we actually getting so many terrorist attacks is
because we are allies with America and the western world in
fighting this cause. I want to let them know also that their
perception of Pakistanis being a terrorist country is
definitely very, very wrong," he added.

PTI