WASHINGTON DIARY: The government, jihadis and public did it! —Dr Manzur Ejaz - Wednesday, April 06, 2011

If our cricket team has not won, it is largely due to the jihadis and the Taliban who scared the entire world away from Pakistan. The politicians and public craze did the rest

A fortune teller on television, who has been 100 percent accurate previously, had forecast that if Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani went to Mohali, the Pakistani cricket team would lose the match. He was proved correct again because, along with his acclaimed knowledge of the stars, his logic that the Pakistani team would come under pressure and not perform well was on the dot. This shows that when an inept government jumps onto an even successful venture, it is more likely to go bust. This does not mean that the government and state at large have no role to play in society overall: it simply means that if a government cannot deliver on what it is required to, it will mess up even private ventures where it has no need to go.

The Pakistani cricket team’s story reflects the reality of Pakistan, which has an immense pool of talent but fails in collective or national ventures. The Pakistani team won all but one game to reach Mohali for the semi-final. The boys were playing the game as a sport and were winning, something no one had expected. But once all the political actors, from Gilani to Nawaz Sharif, jumped onto the bandwagon and the whole nation made it a do-or die event of national pride and Islam versus ‘the infidels’, the boys failed under psychological pressure. All of us would fail under such a heavy emotional burden.

The Indian team was better equipped to take the pressure because it has been playing dozens of international matches on its home ground, witnessed by millions of people in the stadiums in addition to fast paced Indian premier league matches. The Pakistani team has not been given the opportunity to play international matches at home or in India. Sri Lanka was the last team to visit Pakistan and was attacked by jihadi terrorists during its stay. Consequently, none of the world’s teams were brave enough to put their lives on the line and, thus, when the location of the World Cup was decidedly South Asian, Pakistan was excluded from hosting the events. So, if our cricket team has not won, it is largely due to the jihadis and the Taliban who scared the entire world away from Pakistan.

The politicians and public craze did the rest. Why did Gilani, Nawaz Sharif and Rehman Malik have to call Shahid Afridi and why did the interior minister have to issue statements against match fixing a couple of days before a critical match? Of course, Pakistan’s intelligence agencies have to watch out for illegal activities but what is the point in raising doubts about a team that has played exceptionally well?

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Sonia Gandhi and Lal Krishna Advani did not call Dhoni or, if they had called, it was not publicised. Without putting any pressure on the players, the Indian government used the occasion to resume dialogue with Pakistan. The Indian PM and Congress Party know that there is a two-year window of opportunity to engage Pakistan because after that it will be election time in India and Congress cannot afford to go soft on Pakistan.

On the contrary, PM Gilani jumped onto the cricket bandwagon with all four feet and so did the opposition leaders. The Pakistani public went into frenzy and turned it into a national and religious war. The outcome was no different from what the TV fortune-teller had forecast. Therefore, it is the menace of jihadi terrorism, the foolishness of shortsighted politicians and the sentimentalism of the public that is responsible for the defeat of the Pakistani team more than anything else. One cannot say that the Pakistani team’s victory was assured otherwise but it is reasonable to assume that players perform better when they are not encumbered by extraneous factors. The Pakistani team was winning when it was left alone and lost when the game was turned into a national crusade.

What happened to the Pakistani cricket team is a reflection of the general ethos of Pakistan. On an individual level, many Pakistanis are significant achievers. They work hard and reasonably succeed when they migrate to other countries because they work under organised systems. However, the same individuals fail in most matters while living in anarchic Pakistani conditions.

Furthermore, whatever Pakistan’s economic growth may be, it has come from individual initiatives. The small entrepreneurs, farmers and producers in other fields have augmented new technologies not with government help, but despite the state’s unwise economic policies. Wherever the government and key institutions of the Pakistani state have tried to intervene — be it in monetary policy or even foreign relations — disaster has been the outcome. The services that the government is assumed to deliver are simply not there.

The government has failed to provide quality education, health services, power and a stable economic policy. Not only have successive governments failed to deliver these services, they have caused the degeneration of the system itself. For example, the Pakistani government’s heavy borrowing from the State Bank has accelerated price levels to an unpredicted level. In every sector, successive governments have done more damage than good. Despite the government’s abysmal performance, Pakistanis have done reasonably well on an individual level, like our cricket team.

The moral of this story is that if we want our cricket team to be the best, we should eliminate jihadi terrorism so other international teams can visit Pakistan and the players become immune from public pressure. In addition, the government should stay away from activities that are not in its purview. The public should also learn a lesson from its self-defeating sentimentalism and conspiracy theories, and let cricket remain a game of young men who can win and also lose at other times. The public’s reception of the Pakistani team after the Mohali defeat is commendable and such a positive attitude will only help the Pakistani players.

The writer can be reached at manzurejaz@yahoo.com

Source  :http://dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2011\04\06\story_6-4-2011_pg3_3 

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