Three Cheers for Pakistan

By Prabhakar Timble
30 March 2011 07:06 IST

The semi-finals of the Cricket World Cup  2011  between  India  versus Pakistan  is  nothing different than    war time between the projected arch rivals.  The hype dished out to us by media continuously for a week has made a cricket match as top national priority.  We seem to relish it like fresh mango pickles. The tension and stress on the otherwise sporting teams has sucked the joy and splendour out of the game. National pride, nation’s honour and patriotism have taken full charge. Love for cricket has gone into oblivion. The pitch is akin to a field of bull fights. It is neither sports time nor joy time. It is pure pass time putting the loyalty to nation to test. With media on the prowl for headlines and breaking news every minute, the semi-final has energised hate campaign and provided fuel for violence and intolerance. The ‘laagan’ of this semi-final would be very heavy irrespective of the outcome. The impact would last much beyond the fifty over match.

Sports could be a vehicle of improving friendship provided the sporting encounters are friendly and they are viewed so by people. If you engineer a climate of national superiority and create camps of winners and losers, it ceases to be a channel of enhancing diplomatic ties. With clouds of Shivaji, the Maratha warrior; Aurangzeb, the Mughal emperor, Har Har Mahadev; Din Din Din; Vande Mataram, Zindabad, Murdabad floating in the cricketing skies, one cannot expect positive outcomes. With cricket between these two neighbours linked to matters which have no relation to sports, the result is digging of history, wounds of partition and terrorism based on subjectivity and prejudice. Added to this is the planned presence of the Prime Ministers of both the nations and high profile political dignitaries. I look forward to renewed threats, allegations and intolerance after this match. The blame for this should be squarely owned by the media who will exploit every minute for political headlines from a sports event.

Strictly from a sporting angle, I would say. ‘let the best team win’. Actually, it is the best performer of the particular day that wins, not necessarily the best team. It is like the outcome of any examination which depends on the mistakes committed or avoided during that limited time. We also know that the present match is not played under natural conditions. The stress conditions will definitely prevent players from giving their best. Let us understand that this is an artificially pumped stress.

In any tournament we find unexpected outcomes. In the present World Cup, South Africa lost to New Zealand. Australia lost to India. They all had potential to win and may definitely win in a repeat match because they are great teams and better than the teams at whose hands they had to accept defeat.

 The reckless and stinking commercialisation of cricket has killed not only this sport but also other games by denying a level playing field. This game of cricket played by nations which can be counted on finger tips should actually be too small an event to engage prime and productive time of the masses. But, like the English language, the shadow of cricket is larger than the substance. What matters least engages us the most. The school boy is a victim of Uncle Chips, the college girl of Macdonalds, the urban family of Coke & Pepsi and the two impoverished economies of cricket.

My heart prays for India. However, my head says that Pakistan badly needs a win. The self-esteem of this part of British India partitioned as the price of independence from colonial power is at an all time low. The international image has received a strong beating due to terror outfits occupying the Pakistani soil. The people of Pakistan themselves are also victims of terror groups. The poverty curtain is looming large. Democracy and civil liberties are far below the minimum levels and feudalism reigns. Pakistani cricket itself is not on a strong wicket considering allegations of match-fixing.

I know that losing or winning has no relationship to national pride. But, we and the media have either elevated cricket to that level or denigrated national honour to this level. Under such circumstances, if Pakistan wins, India may not lose. Hence, three cheers to Pakistan from my side. Three cheers for a win. If not, three cheers to cheerfully digest the defeat since even this will be no small victory especially for Pakistan.

The strength and beauty of my country is that I can stand up for Pakistan. Apart from the freedom of speech, we cherish the values of empathy, tolerance, compassion and celebrating achievement. I am confident that none will doubt my ‘deshbhakti’ or ‘deshprem’. It is not as simple as digging cricket pitches in Mumbai or planting the tricolour on a maidan in Kashmir or teasing the minorities by leading Vande Mataram processions through Muslim ghettos on Eid Day.

If we desire to build bridges through sports, eschew the hype and converting the event into one of national solidarity. The semi-final would be wonderful if the Prime Ministers and top political functionaries confine themselves to Delhi and Islamabad. Leave Mohali exclusively to sports lovers.

 

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Prabhakar Timble

Mr Prabhakar Timble is an educationist and a legal expert. He has served several educational institutions, especially as the Principal of Government College at Quepem, Kare College of Law in Madgao as well as couple of Management Institutes. He was also the State Election Commissioner of Goa.

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