Gunshots give way to silence in Pak as India wins WC semis

Enthusiastic fans greeted every hit over and to the fence with gunshots in the air but the joy was replaced by stunned silence as wickets started to tumble and in the end some of the angry fans in the port city of Karachi smashed giant television screens set up at public places after their team lost.

As the game watched by the two Prime Ministers Manmohan Singh and Yousuf Raza Gilani began, thousands of people gathered at parks and stadiums across Pakistan where giant screens were put up to beam the match dubbed as 'mother of all battles'.

Many people in cities hired high definition screens for private parties while Twitter and Facebook buzzed with emotional messages egging on the two teams. Most Pakistani fans believed the 260 runs scored by the Indian team was a target that would be easily chased by their side.

Every time a Pakistani batsman unleashed a four or a six, gunfire rent the air over Islamabad and Karachi by crowds that gathered at markets and public places. Gilani yesterday declared a half-day holiday in offices and schools so that people could watch the semi-final thriller with arch-rival India.

Busy commercial centres, markets and roads quickly emptied at around noon as people left work to watch the game. People continued to flock to shops selling the Pakistani flag and stickers well after the match had started.

Scores of youths, their faces painted green and white and wearing the green T-shirts of the Pakistan team, poured out into the streets. Many youths drove through cities on motorcycles, waving the national flag and shouting slogans in support of their team.

Special prayers were offered in mosques, temples and churches across the country and people recited verses from the Quran to guide the Pakistani team to victory. In several cities in Punjab and Sindh provinces, there was a carnival atmosphere and people set up large screens on road to watch the game.

Thirty-four television sets were installed in the Camp Jail in Lahore so that 4,000 prisoners could watch the face off between Pakistan and India. In Malir Jail in Karachi, prison officials gave Indian team T-shirts to 200 Indian prisoners to support their team.

But as the Pakistani side was skittled out thanks to superb bowling by the Indian side, a hush descended over most cities and towns and people began streaming out of the parks and stadiums where the match was being beamed.

On Twitter, well-known musician Salman Ahmad wrote: "Well played India. You deserved to win today. Pakistan you can hold your head high as well, you played this World Cup with grace and passion." But it soon became ugly when angry fans vented their fury on television sets and one person was killed and 50 injured by the celebratory gunshots which went stray.

"People resorted to aerial firing to celebrate an Indian wicket or to cheer a boundary in the Pakistan innings but stray bullets hit people around them including children who were taken to hospitals for treatment," police official Khan Bahadur said.

Not surprisingly as soon as the semi-final ended in defeat for Pakistan, the guns fell silent as plans to celebrate a Pakistan victory were cancelled yesterday. In other parts of the country also the high tension match led to casualties.

In Rawalpindi, a student took poisonous pills after being depressed by the defeat, while in Faisalabad a 65-year-old succumbed to a heart attack during the match.

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