Pakistan, politics and cricket

The recent snub of the Pakistani cricket players by IPL teams was unbelievable and believable at the same time. I remember as a young cricket fan listening to my father complain that we should not play cricket with Pakistan while they’re condoning the terrorist activities against India. I, of course, was so young and myopic that all I cared about was watching Wasim, Waqar, Saqlain and their ilk in action.

Over the years, as I (hopefully) got wiser, and as terrorist activities meted out against India by groups enjoying the sympathy of the Pakistani government have got more frequent, I saw more clearly into what my father had said.

Granted that the Pakistani cricketers up for bid have had modest records recently, they have performed better than some others who have been selected. Pure commerce could not have been the driving force for this decision. The Pakistani players who’ve been snubbed include the incomparable-actionned Sohail Tanvir who has shown his deviousness on a Pakistani TV program where he was a phone-in interviewee. He starts off with the oft-heard refrain of how playing for Pakistan is it’s own reward. The man actually said that it is politics and players should have nothing to with politics in the same breath as he said, “Hinduon ki zehniyat hi aisi hoti hai…” The interview continued with Pakistani sports analyst Zahid Farooq Malik waxing eloquent about how India has sandbagged Pakistan and again equating India to a Hindu state. He also agreed with Shahid Afridi who said, “Ham wahan nahi khelenge jab tak wahan ki hukumat…

Lemme clear something up for these people of Pakistan…

We don’t have a hukumat here. We have a democracy. Granted it does not work as well as we’d like, but it is hell of a lot better than the theocracy you have there. We have a semblance of law and order here: international cricketers are not machine-gunned down as they’re being transported from one place to another.

India is not a Hindu state. We have enough Muslims, Christians and people of other religions to make this a secular country where the celebration and practice of your religion is given importance, no matter which brand of fairy-tales you subscribe to. It is all part of freedom. As for saying, “Hinduon ki zehniyat hi aisi hai…“, a sentence which reeked of Shoaib Malik after losing the ICC Twenty 20 World Cup to India saying, “I want to thank you back home (in) Pakistan and where the Muslim lives all over the world.”, it is high time that the Pakistani people get a memo that we have around as many Muslims in India as there are people in Pakistan. Implying that the actions of India, (rather of private organizations from India) are consistent with Hindu values is as disingenuous as implying that success for Pakistan is the goal of all Muslims all over the world. It is shameful that every popular figure in Pakistan uses religion as such a hot-button, and more shameful that Pakistan is the one place where such a tactic is guaranteed to work.

Let us get down to brass tacks ladies and gentlemen. We have provided Pakistan oodles of evidence for whom to blame for 26/11 and there is no activity in that regard. There is barely any work being done in the Swat valley known for being a safe-haven for terrorists. No intelligent and unbiased person doubts that Osama bin Laden is in Pakistan. We all know that Musharraf had given him the spare bedroom for many years, and Mr Ten Per Cent would be doing the same.

I study at a grad school in New York, and have met many Pakistanis who truly want nothing but peace with India. Wanting and hoping, however are the same as praying, all of whom have success rates deservedly below actually doing something. The non-Jews in Europe who could smell the death camps but continued to bake bread were enablers because of their silence. Sometimes there are no innocent bystanders. At certain stages, silence is complicity. Edmund Burke historically said, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”

Come on my Pakistani brothers, write and speak against the manipulators of Islam: the ones who use religion to divide instead of unite. Don’t listen to those pop singers who’re preaching that the Taliban is not as big a problem as the West. Do not insult the Muslims of India who’re loyal Indians by even attempting to share your victories and losses with them. Let the public intellectuals come to the fore and listen to them for a change, instead of your clerics. Zulfikar Bhutto may have looted Pakistan as his daughter and son-in-law have done, but he was liberalizing it and making it less threatening. The Pakistan of today is like a teenager with a gun. He has got it by some illegal means, does not have the maturity to use it wisely, will hurt himself and others, and incidentally does not look nearly as cool as Sean Connery with it!

Let me clarify that I under no circumstances would want war with Pakistan. I want hard talks and negotiations. I do not want us to enable any of their citizens’ profit motives (by paying them to play in IPL) while they condone what is systematically being done to India. Wars in today’s times are pyrrhic victories at best, and unequivocal disasters at worst. Let us hope for some rationality, but it is hard to find when one of the parties believes that their book of fairy-tales has the ultimate answers while the other books have fairy-tales.

For those of you who ask, “What has cricket to do with religion?”, here’s a very well written article from Dawn (the only Pakistani newspaper I can stomach) which puts it better than I ever could.

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10 thoughts on “Pakistan, politics and cricket

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Pakistan, politics and cricket « SNAFU -- Topsy.com

  2. the issue is not about pakistani cricket players and their worthiness in the game of cricket.But, including them could cause loss of principal investment for IPL team owners..forget the profit…a security threat to indian citizens whichever city the game is played.the relationship between the two nations is too bad to enjoy a game of cricket between them. Even, Sri lanka would avoid them, then australia, england etc. Unfortunately USA does not play cricket..Can pak players learn baseball??

    liberalcynic: good point. People are forgetting that IPL selections are business decisions. Security issues ensuing from selecting Pak players are too much right now.

    • we are poles apart .. seriously, business and games should not be mixed!.. now PCB declares that they dont want any paki player to play in IPL anyway..why? to avoid the insult? Who gave a chance to let them speak? WE did! Why should we have done that anyway, when there WAS an intermediate option available..

      liberalcynic: those games are conducted because of advertisements that will be played during the breaks. Hence, these games ARE business! Now, if you say that business and politics must not be mixed, even that cannot be avoided totally. Whenever large sums of money are involved, politics will seep in. In this case, there was some serious lack of communication. The govt welcomed them, but almost no team wanted the hassle of security for those players. Thanks for visiting!

  3. Very well written. But I wondered if this could have been dealt more diplomatically by Lalit Modi and gang? Like making it clear to them,”Boss, we already had to stage our second edition outside India due to security reasons. Now the issue will rise again if Pakistan is involved. This is just like how no country would tour Pak under the present circumstances.” (I am sure a PR person can word it better but you get the drift, right?) Why make all the brouhaha about clearing visa status, put those players in the top auction pools and then lead everyone to a situation where the word “snub” had to be used? I don’t know but probably diplomacy doesn’t work that way.

    liberalcynic: I see your point about the handling being unfortunate. One must note however that the giving visas was the government’s action. Not bidding for Pak players was an action by private team-owners who would be juggling huge security problems. It is sad the way it happened, but if they had not issued visas, that would be a govt. action, which this case is not.

  4. the cricket world boycotted south africa (and the great cricketer barry richards) in protesting its apartheid. similarly, the world can boycott pakistan until the country makes a sincere effort to become a law-abiding citizen of the world community and makes a sincere effort in stopping terrorism..

    liberalcynic: Interesting…this situation warrants a boycott even more…but unlike apartheid which was open, Pakistan’s blind eye to terrorism is not as openly talked about by organizations.

  5. my my my….someones temperamental! Cricket is my least of concern…but your post pulled me to comment espl after reading SRK and shiv sena ( both of them sounding as if they are mahan, jag kalyani ppl, yet both are capitalists in true sense and in diff ways basking their bank a/cs on some hotshot political topics.

    Khair, coming to topic…

    Firstly, the very existence of Pakistan (though favored by few) is based on religion. So, expecting that not to be a part of politics is a little (Greater) expectations. But i can write from the experiences i have heard, public of pakistan is as awry of the mixture of religion with politics, and terrorism (which i mean hear as literal as possible without any connotation to Jihad) as the outside world is.

    Secondly, hukumat means “governing body” and jamhuriyat i.e democracy is a form of governing body. Sorry couldn’t miss the chance.

    liberalcynic: There is nothing temperamental about this post. This has been my opinion for a long time that governments should not be involved in private business decisions. As for SRK, there is no doubt that he is a capitalist, and if you asked him in private, even he would tell you that taking Pak players right now does not make much business sense. He said what he said because a lot of people watch his movies in Pakistan and he wouldn’t want to alienate that audience. Neither his decision nor his comments have anything to do with him being a Muslim. The Shiv Sena is just being a ridiculous teenager, clamoring for attention. The birth of Pakistan was from a religious standpoint, but that does not have to be a part of every political and business decision. As and when such an elevation of religion over logic happens (no matter which religion) I tend to take offense. I will agree that the bulk of Pakistan is wary of the way religion is taking over everything, but they aren’t doing anything about it, which brings me to my second point.

    You are right about jamhuriyat and hukumat. I was merely playing on the fact that in their country it is understandable for the government to interfere in business, and hence using the non-literal meaning of hukumat!

  6. Haven’t read all the comments, above:

    A few points:

    1. Even non-inclusion of Pakistani players was a business decision, not so much because of security or visa-concern, but huge companies like Reliance & Wadia group’s value of shares depends a lot on public sentiment. They eventually endeared themselves to the shareholders by what they did.

    2. A part of what Pakistani players earn in India, through the taxes they pay would be used to sponsor bullets used for killing Indians. Of symbolic value, but something that ought to be remembered.

    3. Extremely controversial, but I’m confident that there indeed is something like ‘universal Muslim brotherhood’, which transcends all other boundaries, including that separating nations. But I anyway do not see, how this is worse than owing allegiance to one’s country. Probably, ideals which govern a country (like India) are more conducive to human happiness than which govern (click) a religion (like Islam). But yes, not all Muslims in India might subscribe to idea of this pan-Islamism. Moreover, such pan-Islamism would have nothing objectionable if it would not go against the legitimate interests of innocent non-Muslim people of our (or any other, for that matter) country.

    Unrelated: You might find very interesting The Necessity of Atheism by D.M Brooks (click) very interesting. You can download it legally and for free in RTF format for reading on PC or JAR format for cell phone. It would take 8 to 10 hours to read, and apart from some very good philosophical arguments against the hypothesis of God, it is good source of general knowledge about history of prophets and religions. Additionally, it also it touches upon human psychology. I’ve not completely read Dawkins’ The God Delusion, but thought it was very unorganized as compared to what I’m recommending.

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