Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Hope must prevail

And cricket must be its beacon...

You must be reading the title of this post and wondering "but how"? Surely Pakistan has sunk to new lows, it is being consumed by the flames of terror. If I were to use Bush's hopelessly ridiculous color based terror meter, we have already run out of colors to represent the state of affairs and the "threat levels". 

Now that its been a full day since the despicable and unfortunate incident, I have had more time to think like everyone else. The players have safely returned home to their concerned family, friends and fellow Sri Lankan's. Yesterday, I was searching the depths of my heart to see how we could continue to have hope in circumstances like these. 

While I do not live in Pakistan, I have family and friends there and know that they have perceptions in their mind about things that are sanctimonious; freedoms that are placed upon a pedestal so they can not be touched by those looking to snatch them away. As a nation, very few such freedoms exist and very few such pedestals remain. Mosque's and places of worship - the most ancient of sacred environs have long lost their protection and have become blood filled battlegrounds. Just the other week, we sank to a new low when a suicide bomb went off at the funeral of someone killed in an act of terror. Violence consuming violence.

Each day we lose a freedom. Each day we take a step backwards. We must stop deluding ourselves. One of those last pedestals was that "no one would ever hurt visiting sportsmen, especially cricketers". I want to make it clear that it wasn't Imran Khan who just believed this - it was all of us. Read past posts and comments by our bloggers. These beliefs were reflective of the psyche of a whole nation - singling Imran or someone else out for believing this and gloating over the situation is ridiculous and twisted.

The fact remains that another one of our freedoms has been taken away from the very pedestal we put it on. Sure, we deluded ourselves and as we now know and arguably put the lives of our guests at risk. It is very sad that it has taken an incident such as this for us to come to this realization.  

Life carries on in Pakistan, and so must the cricket. At the same time we must not fool ourselves - it is unlikely that any foreign team will visit Pakistan for at least 3-5 years. But does that mean we stop watching the game and playing it? Do we let terror define our lives?

Finally, I want to say a small prayer for the brave, brave men that gave up their lives protecting the players. If you have ever seen a Pakistani police escort car, you will know how tough of a job that is. They sit at the back of a police pickup, an open sitting target for anyone wanting to attack them. Like the poor Indian policemen of Mumbai, they carry 30-40 year old rifles that fire one bullet at a time. They are given only a few bullets and are no match for any sophisticated attacker. Yet, they managed to keep the attackers at bay long enough and gave up their lives protecting the players. The driver of the bus is also a brave man, driving the bus when all that was in front of him and the bullets was a sheer wall of glass.

I have a few Sri Lankan friends from my school days in Karachi. I must join Younis Khan in apologizing to them and the whole Sri Lankan nation as well. To the Sri Lankan team - you came to us when no one would and the day you landed in Pakistan you were heros. I hope that no cricketer or human has to go through what you had to, but this is not the Pakistan and Islam that we know and the people who did this are not from amongst us.

Let us re-construct the pedestals that we place our precious freedoms upon. Let us redefine what is sacrosanct and what can not be taken away from us. 

And let us start by continuing to play cricket. Let no one take away our freedom to play cricket - in our schools, in our streets, in our mountains, on our beaches and every other inch of Pakistan. 

And let us keep hoping that one day we will be able to ask another team to come play in one of our beautiful stadiums and that our children will be able watch a Waqar or a Shoaib steaming in to bowl. My anticipation builds like the noise of the crowd when they come in to bowl, but for now we must be patient.


Make your pitch on this post...


15 Pitched:

  1. straight point said...


    hope is what drives all of us and even in turbulent times likes this hope wont die away...

    having said that...sometimes its wise to let dust settle and let time take its course to heal things...without letting things drift away...

    so i am sure when the dst will settle world cricket will find its way for beloved pak cricket to find its feet doubt about it...

  2. Gaurav Sethi said...

    "My anticipation builds like the noise of the crowd when they come in to bowl"

    Obaid, that was very moving.

  3. Rahul said...
      This comment has been removed by the author.
  4. Rahul said...

    "And let us start by continuing to play cricket. Let no one take away our freedom to play cricket - in our schools, in our streets, in our mountains, on our beaches and every other inch of Pakistan."

    Cricket will survive. It will take more than this to root out cricket from any child who grew up in sub-continent, eating, drinking, breating cricket. And as long as kids continue to play cricket, it is in safe hands. (Hope the world as a whole was also under kids, then it wouldn't have been such a mess.). As I read somewhere, "cricket is about a bat and a ball, not wads of cash."

  5. namya said...

    Let's hope this incident starts a movement in Pakistan for rebuilding the broken edifices that you have mentioned. My thoughts are with the talented Pakistan team who may now play in front of neutral crowds. Home will be a land far away for them.

  6. SledgeHammer said...

    Nicely written Obaid.

    This is a very testing time for cricket. Cricket will prosper in the end.

    I'm personally excited about Pakistan playing at neutral venues. Bigger crowds will show up than they have in Pakistan in the recent past.

    Australia have already suggested playing Pakistan in England in 2010.

  7. obaid said...

    Thanks for reading and leaving comments everyone

    @SP: yes definitely - we need to be patient and let the dust settle. This has implications for world cricket and security measures will need to be put in place in all countries since cricketers are being targetted now

    @Naked Cricket: I was very emotional with tears in my eyes when I wrote that... and that was because as a kid I have these memories of watching Waqar and Wasim running in to bowl. I was emotional because Pakistani children may be deprived of witnessing such a magnificent spectacle + watching heros from other countries in action (live)

    @Rhaul - very true. I hope, like you that people will get mobilized and throw out these terrorists

    @Sledge: Interesting point there. England may be the perfect venue because it offers exciting pitches (unlike UAE) and has a big rowdy Pakistani/British population. I need to write a post on this angle, but in the past ECB and other english people have questioned the loyalty of England born Pakistanis - I wonder if this will cause that rift to widen. But I am in full favour of having games there

  8. karachikhatmal said...

    but should cricket (in pakistan) continue?

    when we can not respect what has taught us how to love, when we let 12 men guard the very symbol of what was supposed to display our safety when our leaders travel with 1200 guards, when we continue to abuse all that we have been granted, can we be allowed to partake in cricket again?

    the attack breaks my heart. but pakistanis - we have become too fucked up. and we STILL haven't seemed to learn our lesson.

  9. Anonymous said...

    are these guys for real? the pcb administration that is. they have now labelled a respected cricketer who went through one of the most toughest ordeal of his life in their country as a liar. initially, i would be amused by their inaptitude. but it's downright shameful, irritiating and only hightens the anger and helplessness for people like us, who are witnessing not only the death of cricket, and the decay of social fabric, but are now also subjected to ridicule by these buggers.

  10. obaid said...

    @anon: yes I didn't believe it myself. Denial is a very dangerous thing. I think the PCB chairman should appologize and resign for calling a hero a liar. Broad dived to protect the other umpire in the van, and has tears I'm his eyes when he spoke about the dead van driver

    He is an honorable man, i'm not sure that I can say the same for the pcb ppl

  11. Anonymous said...

    my friend resignation is a wishful thinking - these leachers will never do the honourable thing. pity that the patron wont take action either.

    what they are missing to interpret is that although they had 6 good-men protecting the cricket team, they'd left the umpire's vehicle completely unnoticed. Good that the terrorists didnt realise that foreigners were in that van - else they'd come prepared for a full hostage drama.

    Woh kehtay hain na ke khon kholta hai ... apparently, now they'll lodge a complaint against Broad for being agitated by in a deathly situation.

    They're making Musharraf's regime look like paradise - and that's a shame and completely unfair on us.

  12. SledgeHammer said...

    @anon, obaid: Ejaz Butt should shut the hell up! The funny thing is that he says that we should wait for the investigation before making comments. But he himself is making comments before getting much information.

    Perhaps Broad is not fully accurate. Maybe those protecting the van were shot dead, and some went to protect the bus instead. Either way, security was not great, and Broad has a right to be pissed. Especially since the Pak govt "guarantees" the security of foreign teams. And Butt should show some restraint and common sense. Maybe even question the events, but to call him a liar is very, very shameful.

  13. Farees said...

    Welly well written Obaid. Echoed my exact sentiments. Dont think anything is left to be said except...its not over.

  14. Obaid said...

    @Sledge: I agree with you.. in fact no body should be saying anything in terms of passing judgement before an impartial investigation (also involving ICC) is complete. I can understand that the umpires and the players are shook up, but contact with the media should be limited.

    @Farees... thanks for reading!

  15. Q said...

    Sadly, hope is the only thing we have left Obaid..

    Pakistan needs change.. big time change and unless that happens we can't expect anyone to come and play in the country..

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