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.