If we had won - S Khalid Husain - Friday, April 08, 2011

The Pakistani cricket team lost the semi-final to India. After the pre-match ballyhoo that was created, admittedly less coarse and far less offensive than the pre-match ballyhoo in India, the loss was a shock.

What if Pakistan had won the semi-final? Would that have created a national high that, even if only for a while, would have compensated for the awful lows that the country has hit in all fields? There is little doubt that this would have been so. Victory in the semi-final would have sent people into euphoric frenzy, until the mounting hardships of day-to-day existence caught up with them again.

But the victory would have been promptly hijacked by opportunists. The team would probably have been credited with the “win,” but only after the opportunists had thickly garnished and liberally marinated the “win” with their own “critical role” in the “triumph” over India. Leading the rush of those basking in the glory of the win would have been the Presidency, followed by the Prime Minister’s House, ministers, politicians, a medley of religious leaders, prayer leaders in every mosque and others.

The first to jump to take the credit would have been the men and women around President Zardari whose function it is to begin to chirp the moment anything happens that can be used to gain mileage for the chief. The president is weighed down by the deadweight of his nominees to many key positions. In the public eye, however, the two most infamous presidential nominees have been the head of PIA and the chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board, Ijaz Butt. The PIA head is no more, but Ijaz Butt has endured despite his conspicuous failures, and continuing demands for his replacement. He must have strong links somewhere, which the president cannot, or will not, mess with.

Ijaz Butt would have come out a winner regardless of whether Pakistan won or lost. A Pakistani victory in the semi-final against India would have set the president’s men and women crowing about the president’s “good judgment” in persisting with Ijaz Butt as Chairman of PCB, despite unbearable pressures for his removal.

After the team lost to India, Ijaz Butt is only one in Pakistan to come out a winner. There is little probability of Butt being replaced, for that would amount to apportioning to him some of the blame for the loss. That can never be, for that would also be admitting his critics were right, and the president’s judgment not so good, after all.

Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani had claimed his visit to Mohali would be in the interest of the country as, among other things, his presence would “motivate” the team, it did. Wags say the dropped catches which lost us the game occurred because our fielders had their eye on their prime minister, instead of the ball. He was such an eyeful in his snazzy foreign-tailored jacket, even before he changed into a snazzier blazer, he became a big distraction for players, including probably for man of the tournament, Yuvraj Singh, who went for a first-ball duck.

Interior Minister Rahman Malik would have been one hugely relieved man in case of a Pakistan win. Far from feeling squeamish about blurting out a warning to the team on “fixing” and “betting” before the match, he would be claiming his “warning” did the trick. There were few no-balls, and no obvious and deliberate throwing away of wickets. As for dropped catches, one has to look at the “win” as a gift to the nation by the team. The nation, Rahman Malik would have counselled, should stop looking the gift horse in the mouth.

Mercifully, there is not as much polishing of the ball by fast bowlers by vigorous rubbing on a body area, as during Imran Khan’s days. Such rubbing would send the religious brigade into a tizzy. Cricket is now accepted by the religious brigade to be not un-Islamic. There were duas said in almost all mosques for the Pakistani team’s success.

If Pakistan had won the semi-finals against India, the religious, and the prayer leaders in mosques, would have joined in the celebration of the win. Besides announcing on the mosque amplifiers, turned on to max volume, that the win is direct result of the dua to which the congregation said “Aameen.”

There is no dearth of opportunists who would have surfaced to proclaim their role in the victory. Punjab, the home of cricket, Gul, Afridi and Yunus notwithstanding, would be so euphoric that instead of 25 acres, each player would be receiving a tehsil as his jagir.

The Sharifs, like the Moghuls, know no bounds when they are giving away what is not theirs.

The writer is a former corporate executive. Email: husainsk@cyber.net.pk

Source : http://thenews.com.pk/TodaysPrintDetail.aspx?ID=40547&Cat=9

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