Scraping the barrel - Kamran Shafi September 7, 2010

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WHAT else again, but the disgrace heaped on our country by these hoodlums who also go by the name of cricketers? How much more disgrace will be piled upon this country by these Yahoos, and the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), both prime collections of clowns and jokers? I mean what the devil is going on?

The ICC gives us the time and the opportunity to withdraw the three named and (hopefully) shamed players from the T20 and the one-day series and we go on insisting we will not. And then, when the International Cricket Council (ICC) suspends them, we have the gall to say we still think they are innocent and that the ICC overstepped its authority; that it is a conspiracy; that the videos were doctored; that Indian bookies were the ones really to blame, and so on.

What in the world is wrong with us? Why do we strike attitudes and then fall flat on our faces, every single time? Why do we repeatedly shoot ourselves in the groin — shooting oneself in the foot is far less painful so it`s the groin for us — making ourselves the laughing stock of the world?

Instead of taking the high road in matters like this and saying that what has been alleged is serious stuff, and that if the charges are true we will take the most stringent action to wipe out corruption in our cricket, we try to obfuscate and sidestep and lie. News of the World

We will simply not do the right thing, ever. Instead of facing the facts, we went and challenged a newspaper such as the , a tabloid known for dirty tricks I know, but part of a multi-billion pound media empire, which the very next week came out with more lurid stories about Pakistani cricket and the veritable death throes it is in. News of the World

Now there are allegations that all Pakistani matches are `fixed`, through the mouth (and video) of batsman Yasir Hameed who apparently told the that every single match that Pakistan plays is `fixed`!

Most critically, where in the world is Ijaz Butt, the present undertaker of Pakistan cricket, who is finally interring its putrid corpse; people like the Commando`s favourite Nasim Ashraf already having performed the last rites? Which seven-star London hotel is he lurking in, leaving the high commissioner to do his dirty work? This is not a bilateral matter between the court of St James and the government of Pakistan, so why is Butt himself not facing the music?

And now for the discomfiture of our slow and ponderous prime minister (who just a few weeks ago made the silly remark that now that COAS Kayani had got a three-year extension everybody would complete their tenures — I ask you!) as he watches the army project itself at the politicians cost. Which, be as it may, even I, as a former soldier, was dismayed to see army trucks carrying relief supplies for the flood-affected, emblazoned with banners announcing `In tough times Pakistan Army is with you` and other such.

This is highly unprofessional behaviour: if the army is distributing food and other supplies to Pakistanis in trouble it is the right and proper thing to do: it is the Pakistan Army after all and the food and supplies belong to the people of Pakistan in the first place who pay for the army`s upkeep through their very noses.

Of course, if the relief goods had been bought with the profits of the army`s commercial activities such as real estate businesses; retail shops; bakeries and restaurants; cement, fertiliser and sugar manufacturing industries, then the banner could (rightly) have read `donated by the CSD`, `donated by Askari Bank` or `donated by Fauji Cement`, and so on.

Also, there should have been an `on hire` plate displayed on the hood of the trucks (as used to happen in days gone by) telling the world that these commercial undertakings had hired army transport, according to the rules, to do their good deeds.

Armies the world over help out during calamities: why, even the New Zealand army has been drafted just two days ago to help clean up the mess after the earthquake that hit that lovely and peaceful country. Just the other day the Australian army was called out to help the affected people in the worst floods in 10 years. I saw no banners on New Zealand or Australian army trucks announcing the army`s kind help to its countrymen and women.

I do wish the army would rid itself of this superiority complex sooner rather than later and start considering itself as just another department of the Pakistani government which it is.

We must note too that when the Pakistan Army is called out to help the civilian authority in natural disasters or in internal security (IS) duties, it is called out in `aid to civil power`.

Under this arrangement a certain amount of daily allowance is also paid to all ranks, and quite rightly, for the days that they are engaged in such duties away from the unit lines/residences. Even during the so-called Baloch insurgency in the `70s when my battalion was posted in Kalat and then in Khuzdar we received DA which was a welcome addition to our salaries.

The DA, and the same amount was paid to all ranks up to lieutenant colonel used to be Rs900 per month if memory serves; I am told it is something like Rs13,000 today. So no one is doing any favours to anyone please, sirs.

On the return of our military delegation from Dulles airport, Washington D.C. just this: where was the American conducting officer who should have met the delegation the moment it set foot in the US, to accompany it during its travels in the US? n

And a personal experience: travelling recently in the US, I saw a US Navy rear admiral go through exact same security checks as anyone else. There is no VIP culture there, gentlemen, no one gives a toss for any number of `stars`.

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