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  1. #1
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    "I am sure I had divine help that day in March 2009" : Meher Khalil

    Bus driver Meher Khalil gained overnight fame for his heroic actions in March of 2009, when his presence of mind and courage staved off loss of lives during the attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore. The attack brought an end to tours by international teams to Pakistan, resulting in Pakistan playing all their home games in the UAE with the exception of a one-off Limited-Overs series against Zimbabwe in 2015.

    In an exclusive interview with PakPassion.net, Meher spoke about the sad events of 2009, his feelings about attending the recently held Pakistan Super League final in Lahore and looked forward to the day when international cricket returns for good to Pakistan.





    PakPassion.net : How does it feel when you look back at the events of 3rd March, 2009?

    Meher Khalil : From the aspect of international cricket in Pakistan, this was a day of great tragedy for all of us. It was the darkest day in the history of our cricket. From that day, no international cricket was played on our soil. But then we must be thankful to the Almighty that there were no fatalities to the Sri Lankan cricket players who were guests in our home. But I am hopeful and pray to the Almighty that foreign teams will return to our country in the near future.


    PakPassion.net : A lot of people call you a hero for how you saved the Sri Lankan team that day…

    Meher Khalil : I really feel that the Almighty bestowed a great honour and a gift of His kindness on me to allow me to take our guests away from harm and protect them. This was not an easy thing to do but I am sure I had divine help. It is amazing and an honour in itself that someone who simply drives a bus is now counted amongst heroes of this country. The list of heroes which has sportsmen, academics and so on also has someone with my profession as well. Even my family is really proud of my achievement in protecting the visitors from harm.


    PakPassion.net : What did it feel like when you recently walked into the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore to watch the Pakistan Super League final?

    Meher Khalil : It was truly an enjoyable day for me. Not since March 2009 had we in Lahore seen such a high level of cricket featuring local and foreign players. Not just the Gaddafi Stadium but the whole of Lahore was alive with feelings of joy. As those of us who were at the stadium and those who watched on television around Pakistan and the rest of the world would have seen, it looked like the whole of Lahore was at the stadium. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed that day and I am sure they will remember that day for a long time to come. As for me, I felt proud and happy that I was in the same ground in 2009 when international cricket ceased in Pakistan and now I was there when top-level cricket finally returned to the country again.


    PakPassion.net : Was there any fear in the back of your mind about anything untoward happening during the PSL final?

    Meher Khalil : There was no doubts in my mind during this game. Our security personnel were on high alert that day and there was excellent planning and coordination between the various forces on duty. From my side, I did my utmost to convince some of the foreign Quetta players who had refused to fly out by sending them messages of re-assurance. I asked them to come with the team to Pakistan as I felt that the country had changed a lot for the better since the events of 2009. Our security personnel had made great progress in clearing the country of the menace and are continuing to do so at the present time as well. I urged them to come to our country and play cricket as I was hundred percent sure that they would enjoy the experience. And I wasn’t wrong. The overseas players who did make the trip to Pakistan could not believe the amount of respect and love they received from ordinary Pakistanis. If you read the press and social media today, they are continuing to praise Pakistan. They would like international cricket to return to Pakistan and are glad that they visited our country.


    PakPassion.net : Who are your favourite Pakistan and international players?

    Meher Khalil : As far as Pakistan players are concerned, I am a fan of Shahid Afridi and Misbah-ul-Haq and I also love watching Kamran Akmal and Mohammad Amir. To tell you the truth, I am fan of anyone who plays for Pakistan. From the foreign players, I am an admirer of Suresh Raina and MS Dhoni.


    PakPassion.net : You must also follow the fortunes of the Sri Lanka team?

    Meher Khalil : Before that day in March in 2009, I really did not know much about the Sri Lankan team. But since then, they have become my favourite foreign team. In fact, every time they play any game in the world, I wish and pray for their success. Of course, if they play Pakistan, I will always support my own country but my best wishes will always be there for the Sri Lankan players. A lot of times my friends call me when Pakistan are playing Sri Lanka and ask who I am supporting and I say its Pakistan as they are the team of my country. Regardless of who wins those games, I enjoy the match and my best wishes are with both teams.


    PakPassion.net : It’s been a few years since the events of 2009 but do you think about that day and how you could have done something different?

    Meher Khalil : I was a bus driver by profession and that is all I always concentrated on but on that day, I do regret and wish I had a weapon on me. If I did, I tell you that I would have taken the lives of a few of those terrorists without a single thought. I still think about the way they were walking around without any fear and if I had a weapon, I would have not hesitated to use it. That is the only regret I have but then I am always thankful to the Almighty that I had the presence of mind to drive away from that situation and saved lives in that way.


    PakPassion.net : Are you hopeful about international cricket’s return to Pakistan in the near future?

    Meher Khalil : God Willing, foreign teams will start to visit our country again and our home grounds will be filled again as they used to be before the attack in 2009. I am really happy that the PCB with the help of the Government of Pakistan and our security forces are doing what is needed to make this happen. We saw this cooperation during the PSL final in Lahore and I am confident that this will continue in the future. Remember this is not just a problem for the PCB to solve, but it is something we as a nation need to put right for the future. All of us, regardless of whether we are bus drivers or in the media need to work towards this goal.


    For the latest updates on Cricket, follow @PakPassion on Twitter

  2. #2
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    Amazing talking to him; What a brave man! Really feels for cricket in his country. I just hope his belief in our security personnel is justified and we are able to see international cricket back home soon


    For the latest updates on Cricket, follow @PakPassion on Twitter

  3. #3
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    Fantastic interview, lovely read.


    Dazzling the stage, Ginga Bishonen. Shinpathy!

  4. #4
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    I am a fan of Shahid Afridi and Misbah-ul-Haq
    No Mehar uncle, you only choose one. You either an Afridi fan or a Misbah fan.


    "Life is Pain"
    ~House~

  5. #5
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    Hero. No amount of gratitude is sufficient for what he did that day, putting his life on the line. I know reading various articles how grateful the Sri Lankan boys are towards him, especially Sanga and Mahela. Infact SLC even had a ceremony in honour of the driver.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Markhor View Post
    Hero. No amount of gratitude is sufficient for what he did that day, putting his life on the line. I know reading various articles how grateful the Sri Lankan boys are towards him, especially Sanga and Mahela. Infact SLC even had a ceremony in honour of the driver.
    Yet some PP'ers were having a breakdown just because this guy got free tickets to the PSL final.
    Last edited by Syed1; 11th March 2017 at 17:21.


    #Mein inko rolaonga

  7. #7
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    I live in Canada; My heart lives in Pakistan
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    Great guy, and he's done wonders for Pakistan.

    A genuine hero.


    Hai yeh Josh-e-Junoon, hai yeh apna yaqeen, ke jo tum mein hai dum, woh kisi mein nahin!

  8. #8
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    Brave man.

    I guess a number of people including keyboard warriors would have crumbled when faced with the situation he was facing.



  9. #9
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    What a hero.

    Did what many who are criticising him would have been too scared to do.



  10. #10
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    Situation in Pakistan has changed a lot, says man who drove Sri Lanka’s team bus during Lahore attack

    I will be driving them again to the stadium. Tell them not to worry. The situation in Pakistan has changed a lot. Unko watan ki khushboo aayegi — come and play here, Sri Lanka!

    That’s Meher Muhammad Khaleel, the man who was driving the bus to Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore on March 3, 2009 — Day 3 of the second Test Match — when the Sri Lankan team came under a terror attack suspected to have been carried out by the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi. Six members of the Lankan team were injured, six Pakistani policemen and two civilians were killed.

    Khaleel says he is ready to drive them all over again. His words, meant as an assurance, are heartfelt.

    Until they decided Monday to visit Pakistan, the Sri Lankan players had been concerned about going to Lahore for the October 29 final T20 game of the ongoing series at Abu Dhabi, a neutral venue. The Lanka board’s decision, in consultation with the players and coaches, came this evening but Khaleel understands their fears.

    “It’s so easy for people to say play here but only those who went through that experience can understand that: Khauf and dehshat jo beeti hai unpey, (fear and terror that they went through) is not easy to forget,” said Khaleel, speaking to The Indian Express in a telephone interview. “I can understand that. But my request to them is that the situation is better: army is with you, our people are with you, and you will be safe.”

    Recalling the day, Khaleel said that when the attackers opened fire, he thought it was celebratory fireworks. But soon he saw, in the mirror, that the Sri Lankan players had dived to either side of the aisle.

    He said he then saw a man on the street shoot at the bus. “Kalashinikov tha — one went through the glass, one flew by, and I heard the players say, ‘Go, go, go’. It jolted me and I decided to drive ahead. To rush ahead an eight-cylinder bus on second gear wasn’t easy but I knew I had to escape the scene. They were 10-15 of them, I think, and grouped in twos.”

    Then came a hand-grenade that dipped in front of the bus and rolled to the other side — and didn’t explode. “When I saw that grenade, I thought I should jump out and run but mere mulk key mehmaan hain yeh Sri Lankans — How could I leave them? And, good, I didn’t jump out as I guess I would have been killed by a bullet anyway.”

    The escort gave him cover, he said, and he rammed ahead.

    Later, after a few hours, he heard that the Sri Lankans, who were taken to the airbase, said they wouldn’t leave the country without thanking him. Khaleel was at the police station then, and the Pakistan Cricket Board took him to the players. “Muralitharan, Sangakkara, Mendis, Samaraweera, Mahela were there, and they gave me so much love and respect — they also stuffed whatever money they had in an envelope and gave it to me.”

    Khaleel would later go as guest of honour to Sri Lanka and spend 10 days there meeting with families of all cricketers. “When I went to a public function or even to shopping in a mall, I remember people shouting, ‘Hero! Hero! Hero!’ It felt really good. I was also invited for dinner with their president.”

    Money too came his way: From governments of both countries, PCB, and from many businessmen in Lahore. He bought three buses — he has sold two of them now as he found it difficult to maintain. And he still drives his own bus.

    Invited by a businessman, he went to Morocco and started a furniture business. “I did that for two years there but it didn’t go too well.” Then he went to South Africa and stayed there for two more years. Before he moved to South Africa to live, he was there on a visit when he heard players like Mahela Jayawardene were there for a tournament.

    “So I called the hotel — and you know this satte-baazi has spoiled all of it; one can’t reach a player. I told the receptionist who I was, gave my number and asked it to be given to Mahela. He called me soon, and said, ‘Oh, Muhammad bhai, where are you? And when I told him I was right there, he asked me to come over. We had a great time, he gave me tickets to an IPL game also. I also saw MS Dhoni and Suresh Raina that time; Raina spoke very warmly and Dhoni said, ‘you are so brave, you saved them,’ and I told him, ‘mere bhi bhai hain voh Sri Lankans , ek bhai key liye jaan dene taiyaar hai.’”

    On his return to Pakistan, Khaleel resumed driving the bus. When Zimbabwe toured the country in 2015, he drove them to the stadium. Earlier this year, he was again on duty when the World XI landed in Pakistan. Now, he waits for Sri Lanka.

    Khaleel is intimate with terror and violence. His brother was in the militant outfit Hizbul Mujahedeen and died in Kashmir. That shook him, he says. “Un dinon mujhahideen bolte tey, aaj kal toh terrorist hi bolte hain. One thing I know for sure is all this violence is not going to take one anywhere. What our region needs is peace.”

    Throughout the chat, his refrain: “Make sure you publish this: All I want is for India to come and play in Pakistan. Pura Lahore khada ho jayega kyun ki apna bhai aaya hai ghar mey khelne key liye (Entire Lahore would stand up and be with them as our brothers have come home to play”

    How has the violent episode in Lahore changed his life? “In 2009, mein sirf ek mamuli aadmi tha. (I was just an ordinary guy) It was difficult supporting my family and four kids — two sons and two daughters. By the end of month it was the same pain, there was no money. Now I work equally hard but I am happier. And I went from zero to hero. The whole world knows Meher Muhammad Khaleel. My neighbourhood is so proud of me. They say we live in Khaleel’s ilaka. People call me to functions, the teachers in my kids’ school tell them bring papa for school events. Now, I have (respect) izzat.”

    http://indianexpress.com/article/spo...ttack-4894154/


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  11. #11
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    From all the way here in Melbourne Australia, I must say that I have utmost respect and admiration for this true hero.
    What a fantastic read. Extremely well spoken. Pakistan must be honored to have such a lovely, loyal and kind citizen.

  12. #12
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    That's pretty amazing. A real-life hero. Basically, the Pakistani Batman.

  13. #13
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    Hero. Patriot. Selfie enthusiast.

  14. #14
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    Truly respected hero

  15. #15
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    The word hero gets thrown around too easily these days but this guy is an exception.A true hero.He saved the SL players and officials and prevented the situation from getting even worse.I know some people who get paralysed with fear when faced with a threat but thankfully this guy isn’t like them.

  16. #16
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    Hero Pakistan bus driver happy to welcome back Sri Lanka

    Oct 26 (Reuters) - Meher Mohammad Khalil, a Pakistani bus driver who held his nerve under gunfire to guide the Sri Lankan team to safety during an attack in 2009, is thrilled that international cricket is finally returning to Lahore.

    Sri Lanka play Pakistan in a Twenty20 international in the city on Sunday, becoming the first international cricket team to visit the nation since Zimbabwe in 2015.

    In March 2009, the Sri Lankan team were travelling by bus to the Gaddafi Stadium during the second test when gunmen fired at them with rifles, grenades and rockets, wounding six players and a coach and killing eight Pakistanis, including six policemen.

    Khalil was hailed as a national hero for getting the team to the secured stadium and he was rewarded by the Pakistan government and invited to Sri Lanka where he was given a medal of bravery and a reward of $35,000.

    "There (in Sri Lanka) I did not feel like a Pakistani driver. I felt like I was the President of Pakistan," Khalil told Reuters TV.

    "I could never in my life have imagined the type of respect that they gave me."

    "Our army has carried out so many operations and cleared out so much mess, that now, thank God, we can organise a match without any security."

    After completing a 5-0 whitewash of Sri Lanka in the one-dayers, Pakistan start the three-match T20 series in Abu Dhabi on Thursday before playing the finale in Lahore.

    http://www.eurosport.com/cricket/her...19/story.shtml


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