EDITORIAL: Mohali: winning hearts and minds - Friday, April 01, 2011

Source : http://dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2011\04\01\story_1-4-2011_pg3_1

March 30 was a day everyone in the subcontinent and cricket lovers all over the world had been waiting for. The semi-final between India and Pakistan lived up to the cricketing hype. It was a match full of twists and turns. When India made 260 runs after batting in the first innings, many people thought the target was ‘gettable’ while others predicted that Pakistan’s batting would collapse as has happened many times in the past. The latter prediction came true. Even as our bowlers did their job well in restricting the solid Indian batting to an achievable target, our batsmen could not deliver the goods. This is not to say that the fault lies with the batsmen alone. Our main strike bowler, Umar Gul, did not fire on the day; in fact he misfired and gave away too many runs. Our spinners did a great job of containment and getting wickets while Wahab Riaz outshone everyone with his excellent bowling. Our fielding was perhaps the worst in this match. While dropping catches and misfielding is a norm for our team, dropping four catches of an ace batsman like Sachin Tendulkar perhaps cost us the match. As far as the batting goes, our top and middle order failed yet again. The Indian team certainly played better cricket and thus came out as the winners of this crucial match. Their bowling was tight and they fielded extremely well.

Winning or losing is part and parcel of the game. What mattered was the spirit in which it was played. It was heartening to see the camaraderie between the Indians and the Pakistanis — on the field by our players and off it between the spectators. Generally it can be viewed as a match played not to the best of their abilities by the Pakistani players but it was played in the best of spirits for sure. Despite our disappointment with the end result, it was taken in good spirit on both sides. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Prime Minister Gilani’s discussions went well. Mr Gilani has invited Mr Singh and Congress leader Sonia Gandhi to Pakistan. Both prime ministers are determined to take the peace process forward.

The excitement this match created led to some post-match anger but thankfully it was restricted to a few people only. The media went overboard in creating such hype about this match when it was just a game that had to be played as a game only. The good thing is that this match and the ongoing dialogue process have restarted the process of normalisation of relations between the two neighbours. Captain of the Pakistan cricket team, Shahid Afridi, who rules the hearts of Pakistanis, was able to win millions of hearts across the border. His post-match speech and press conference was not just graceful and full of sportsman’s spirit but his charm and wit bowled over many a heart. Afridi congratulated the Indian team and their nation. He did not need to do it but he also apologised to the Pakistani nation. “I want to say sorry to my nation. We tried our level best but could not make it,” said Afridi. Pakistan is proud to have reached the semi-final in the World Cup and Afridi and our Men in Green have made us all proud.

Now that the World Cup is over, we must start the process of rebuilding our cricket team in preparation for the impending revival of international cricket on our soil. Shoaib Akhtar has bid adieu to cricket; other old warhorses should also give way to fresh blood. Our team should not be selected on past laurels but based on merit and form. PCB Chairman Ijaz Butt said that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has given the go ahead for the Indian team to visit Pakistan for a cricket series. This would truly be a welcome initiative. Cricket is a passion that unites Pakistan. Let’s bring it back to our soil! *

SECOND EDITORIAL: Fazlur Rehman targeted

Even though terror attacks in Pakistan have become routine, their shock remains a fact of life. The latest attacks, though, have reached new heights. The target of two attacks in less than 24 hours is none other than the ‘father’ of hardline and militant Islam in Pakistan: Maulana Fazlur Rehman. On Wednesday, the convoy of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazl (JUI-F) was ripped through by a suicide bomber on the Peshawar-Islamabad motorway near Swabi in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The JUI-F leader got away unharmed but 13 died and 21 were injured. Yesterday, this same convoy — which was on a contact drive — was targeted by another suicide bomber in Charsadda, killing another 12 people. Again Fazlur Rehman survived the attack but he has now been made painfully aware of the fact that someone has it in for him.

At first glance, it seems quite inconceivable that the militants would target a leader and his party whose ideas are congruous with those of the terrorists. Maulana Fazlur Rehman has always supported the ideology and cause of the militants who have been attacking Pakistan’s security establishment, minorities, shrines and people of liberal views. However, it is slowly becoming apparent that the extremists are a breed apart, one that is now beginning to turn on its benefactors of yesteryear. Colonel Imam, who was at one time known as the ‘godfather of the Taliban’, was brutally executed some time ago by the same militants he had helped nurture in the 1990s. Now, it seems as if the Maulana is in their crosshairs.

It is the classic case of the rebellious child turning on its ‘parents’. The latter too are beginning to realise that the monsters they have nurtured are now challenging the writ of the Pakistan state instead of confining themselves to the struggle in Afghanistan. The child of militancy belongs to no one and will continue to bite the hand that once fed it if concrete action is not taken to wipe it out. These two assassination attempts on JUI-F’s chief — even a hardliner like Fazl might be considered too soft by the militants — are proof that the terrorists are now turning on their masters; it is up to the fathers and godfathers to obliterate the Frankenstein monsters they have created. 

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