07 October 2012

Imran Khan’s new World Cup quest

Today Sri Lanka will battle the West Indies for the World Cup, the T-20 one that is.  This is Sri Lanka’s 4th ‘World Cup’ final in 5 years and expectations will naturally be high for Mahela and his boys to deliver.  No pressure though, for we are a nation that celebrates victory wildly, cheers the winners and accepts defeat without going craz

The Final is being played just over a week after a long protest march from Galle to Colombo by agitated academics.  Cricket (like all forms of entertainment) is a convenient distraction for regimes, whether they are besieged or mildly irritated.  Once the Final is done, though, life returns to routine and shelved problems resurface.  For now, though, in Sri Lanka, it’s all about cricket. 

Had Pakistan made it to the Final, the same could have been written about that country’s trials and tribulations.  Pakistan lost and therefore conjecture on that count is unnecessary.  What is more relevant to the people in Pakistan, as cricket-mad a country as any in the region, is another march, and one planned coincidentally by another World Cup hero,  Imran Khan, who led the Pakistan team that was crowned in 1992.     

Imran Khan, loved by the cricketing world and hailed by many as the most popular politician in Pakistan at this moment (even as demographic realities are likely to stump him again and again in elections), is planning a two-day march which will start in Islamabad and end with a rally in South Waziristan, which has become the major focus of drone strikes by the United States military.
As of now, it is unclear whether the relevant authorities will give Khan the go-ahead.  Whether or not permission is obtained, this particular march puts the word ‘World’ and ‘Cup’ in proper perspective.   
The truth is that even as people are entertained (including those who have the privilege not to care or are in dire need of distraction) the world is not a happy place for millions and millions of people.  There may be disappointment in Islamabad about the exit of their cricketing heroes, but the greater concern in that country is about what’s being done in the name of grappling with terrorism. 

Veteran US politician and one time Presidential aspirant, Rev. Jesse Jackson speaking on crimes against humanity in Geneva in March 2012 unequivocally cast Washington in the ‘Perpetrator’ column: ‘Those who own the drones are guilty!’  That’s something the rest of the world did not need proclamation to recognize. 

The truth is that the thunder of a nation’s wild cheer at a cricket match win is nothing compared to that produced by bombs as well as the silent sob of a child who has just lost his mother to one of the countless indiscriminate drone attacks by the US military.   

In 1992, just after winning the World Cup, Imran Khan said he would set up a cancer hospital in Pakistan.  He did.  Twenty years have passed.  He will not be holding a World Cup tonight.  He has other things on his hands.  Far more important than a trophy, but a ‘World Cup’ nonetheless is at stake. 



Anonymous said...

Well said - just like the cancer hospital, hope his dreams will realise in the not too distant future


sajic said...

Imran Khan could be a beacon of hope but, as you said the demographic realities are against him. He represents the minority elite, in spite of his popularity. Most of Pakistan still lives in the middle ages and tribal ties are tight.