Highs and lows - Kamran Shafi - Tuesday 29th March 2011

Source : http://www.dawn.com/2011/03/29/highs-and-lows.html

WHAT pure, heart-lifting joy seeing our cricketers win their way to the semi-finals in their quintessential way and form: wildly unpredictable; each player brilliant in his own way; the captain himself seeming too interfering, trying to control every ball bowled by his bowlers and so on.
But was it not Shahid Afridi who brought it all together in his frenetic, energetic way? Obviously he was doing the right thing all the time, knowing that was the way his boys would deliver. And he himself bagging the most wickets thus far in the World Cup! Great!
What wonderful elation to see our battered and bruised nation`s spirits uplifted in that joyous way. Which immediately brings me to the coming match at Mohali against India. Whilst hoping with all my heart that we win, I hope we accept a contrary result with sportsmen`s spirit.
I hope we will cheer the Indians if they win and give honour and respect to our cricketers for having done so well in the tournament, becoming one of the top four teams in the whole wide world, even if they lose. Indeed, much honour is theirs for beating some of the finest teams like Australia and Sri Lanka and the West Indies on their way to the semis. Well done boys: thank you and God bless.
Before we go elsewhere, a few words on Shoaib Akhtar who gave us so much to cheer over the years and who`s every bullet-like delivery we cheered. I have known about Shoaib personally through a nephew who is a friend of his and whatever I have heard paints him in a good light.
One of the little anecdotes is about a time that Shoaib came to lunch to our village of Wah some years ago, where several relatives and their children were also invited. During the proceedings he wanted a drag on a cigarette but insisted on stepping outside so that the children couldn`t see him smoking, saying he did not want to set a bad example.
I felt sad when he said after announcing his retirement from cricket in Colombo that had he played under Imran Khan he would`ve been a better player as well as a better person. It takes a big man to say such a thing, admitting that he shouldn`t have done some of the things he did.
It also says a lot about Imran who was a great captain — as he is a great organiser, setting up the very fine cancer hospital and on his way to putting up more — forging a winning team through personal example and strict discipline. How one wishes he had stuck to the development of cricket in the country, and running his hospitals.
And now to Japan, one more time. It is heartbreaking to see the extent of the devastation wrought by the double blow of the high-intensity earthquake, and the huge tsunami that followed it. The damage done to the towns in the tsunami`s path is absolutely horrifying, with the extent of the nuclear disaster becoming clearer by the day: the radiation levels already more than ten million times normal. Be which as that may, the Japanese are going about the recovery from the disaster which has taken close to 11,000 lives in their typical, organised way.
The army is out in force, going house to destroyed house, carrying the dead to the local makeshift morgue; helping identify the bodies, and handing them over to the next of kin. By the by, once again there are no banners stuck on Japanese army trucks broadcasting the fact that the Japanese army is there helping the Japanese people.
Part of the recovery is compensation to those affected, in the Japanese way apology forming a most important part of it. Soon after the catastrophe, the highest officials of the Tokyo Electric Power Company, the operator of the Fukushima nuclear power plant, visited the evacuees in shelters and bowed deep in apology for the pollution spread by leaking radiation.
The evacuees who were seen in photographs sitting quietly, dealing with their own grief at losing loved ones, homes, possessions, everything, were not reacting; there was no yelling and screaming, nobody was going for anybody`s throat. I guess this is what makes the Japanese people the great people they are. My heart goes out to them, having spent a wonderful five years in Tokyo myself and making many treasured friends there.
But back to poor old home. Qamar David, a Christian convicted to life imprisonment for blasphemy, and serving his sentence in Karachi jail was found dead in his cell on March 15, the jail staff insisting he died of a heart attack. Nobody believes this story: not the family, not his lawyer, not the activists who followed his case. The autopsy report was allegedly fudged, with 29 torture marks on his body first pointed out and then deleted in the report.
Another week another poor Christian allegedly done in and yet we have the gall to say we don`t have a `softer` image than the hard, ugly, and twisted one we show to the world.
Well, simply put, when you have a hard and ugly and twisted, and wait, a very angry face, you will have a `hard` image. For, look at the contorted-with-anger faces (all too few, mercifully) we see on the street whenever their holinesses decide to whip up the emotions of the unlettered and the brainwashed.
By the way, when I said `mercifully few` I meant it. Look as an example at the Aabpara protest called by the Jamaat-i-Islami and Imran Khan`s Tehrik-i-Insaf. Reportedly there were not more than 300 people there.
About time that these worthies realised that the people are too tied up keeping body and soul together in these hard times to come out every second day. It is laughable too to see the continuing anger of these worthies at the families of the two heroes killed by Raymond Davis for taking several crores in compensation and hightailing it for better climes.


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