Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Just not Cricket: This time it is personal


This time it is personal. Long before I realized I loved the game of cricket, I remember hiding a transistor radio under the desk mid-lesson just to hear the score of the test match. Long before IPL and Stanford and Bollywood stars and commercial contracts, I remember improvising our writing pads into bats and scotch tape around scrunched up paper for a ball. It was just what you did as a Pakistani kid. This time it is personal. When I was fifteen and learned how to drive a car, I remember racing around the same Liberty round-about the bus was attacked. When I was 26, I remember sitting in the same Gaddafi stadium watching the same Sri Lanka chase 241 runs to become world champions. Yes, this time it is personal.

It is not that blowing up school children in a bus or businessmen in a hotel was any less tragic or underlined the ruthlessness and pointlessness of these perpetrators of terror any less. But targeting guest cricketers from a friendly country just crosses the line at so many different levels in the context of Pakistani culture.

Cricket is the one thing our struggling country has been able to be good at on a global level and consequently the one thing Pakistanis have come to closely associate with their sense of self worth. Foreign commentators on the country's obsession with the sport always seem to miss this point. It is the one thing that has united a divided country, across age, across ethnicity, across political or ideological leanings. To attack cricket is to make a statement that these terrorists will pull out all the stops. They will attack children, they will attack teachers, they will attack women, they will attack indiscriminately, and yes, they will attack cricketers as well. Yes, this time it is personal.

I don't want us to just condemn anymore. I don't want us to use scape goats anymore, to point to "foreign hands", to make excuses for our own impotency and political bickering. I don't want us to justify why such a thing might have occurred or to be defensive about why it could be our own mistake and our own people who are involved in perpetrating it. I am, we all are, tired and frustrated and exhausted with this very real problem, our problem, created by us... only ever likely to be solved by us... but only if we acknowledge it and face it as our own... or we will be condemned to be what Frantz Fanon described in a different context as "the wretched of the earth". Yes, this time it is personal, very very personal.

13 comments:

Foodalini said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Spot on... no time for scapegoats, this is nasty...Good Luck for your homecountry... Xav

Aisha P. said...

Faisal - written from the heart - a lovely piece. Sadly, it may be too late perhaps, that we are all finally waking up to what has been building up for years and years. The madrassas sprouting everywhere in Islamabad's backyards, and the general re-Islamization of moderate Pakistanis has been percolating for the past several years...the more violent and blatant infiltration is evident in the more recent past with hundreds of suicide bombings, kidnappings (of many 'wealthy' folks kids - whose ransoms fund the militants, no doubt), blowing up of hotels and the like. But it has not seemed to put any sense of trepidation or impending doom in the minds of the average (well, let me correct myself, the wealthy, educated, governing elite) until now, when it has hit home: CRICKET. Is this the wake up call, or will it be shoved behind us in our short term memories again like all the other incidents of late? Apathy is the norm. 200 schools demolished in Swat didn't wake any of us up - none of us were up in arms about it (just a 'sigh, this is horrible' at most). No one protested when 500 music shops were closed and burnt down in Mingora. No mass street protests or condemnation of our politicians was made when those 5 unfortunate women were buried alive (with the Baluchi minister, Zehri, approving of it!) or when the dancer, Shabana was dragged and killed in the city square in Swat recently. Are we human? It seems like we as Pakistanis are immune to anything violent or that which does not directly inflict harm on us. There are not cries of mass protest or indignation -anywhere. Why is this? Why do our people feel that their voice en masse cannot make a difference? Is it in our DNA? There are countless examples throughout the history of man where people's movement, even beginning with the voice of one person have led to change, reform and restitution. I know in my heart, that ultimately Pakistanis have the will - I for the first time saw this in my lifetime when the whole nation seemed to come together in October 2005 after the massive earthquake. Where are those hearts and minds now?? We need to put forth a movement and voices - March to the President's House/Parliament/ISI with 100,000 people like you and me, shopkeepers, teachers, university professors, jamadars, drivers, and children and demand to be protected and tell them to take action and no longer feed the beast with appeasement. We may snicker and be cynical - but ultimately, that is exactly what we're best at doing as Pakistanis. So, I agree with you - it is up to "us". If we let the media report on how bad the situation has become (tsk, tsk), how India may be to blame and just sit sit sit, then my friend, we need to be ready to right off Pakistan as we know it.

Indian Opinion said...

I think that Pakistan is not just good at Cricket but also zillion other things - like your food is amazing, some of the best coders I have used are from Islamabad and Karachi, your music can make whole of the Desi Janta rock on for a long long time and not to forget the comedians popping out of Pakistan to make the world laugh.

It is your leaders / politicians - who want to have US money and play with terrorists at the same time - who you need to change. I wish you the best and hope that Pakistan comes out of this destructive phase.

Malini Sood Horiuchi said...

Faisee
So beautifully written. Its so true - it hurts so much when they attack the essence of what we love about home.
Malini

Anonymous said...

may i offer a suggestion.....let us take up aisha's idea of 'march in thousands'.
i am willing to start the organizational end ....and lets just do what is long overdue..jehangir R

Anonymous said...

In the absence of any better ideas, " March in thousands" sounds good. The essence is to do something about this menace and do it 'NOW'. We can't go on hoping that someone, somehow, some day will do something about this. WE must act and without fail.
Thank you Jehangir R,tell me when and where and I will be there to be counted. I will guarantee you that we will not be the only one's there.
Ahmad Irfan

Anonymous said...

well here goes our effort...my email address is jehangir.rehman
@gmail.com....i live in lahore but am currently visiting khi. will be back on 14th....

it will be difficult to get our sluggish people off their back sides ...but we have to try....lets do so :)

Aisha P. said...

@ jehangir and ahmad: might i suggest setting up a network of like-minded folks like yourselves on a wonderful social networking site called "ning" (ning.com)or better yet,set up the movement on facebook or myspace, etc. The viral effect would be exponential - just think about how Obama used this social media tool to advance his cause... If you have access to any 'high profile folks', I would engage the leaderships of big Pakistani companies and corporations to get the high visibility/media attention to fully endorse your efforts to the max. Also, University mail lists like LUMs etc...Best of luck to you.

@ faisal: the site you have linked at the bottom of your post has been listed as a 'hacked or hacker' site - I would remove it asap!

Aamir said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Aamir said...

Terrorism had already become personal (to those who live in Islamabad) when a grenade was thrown at my favorite restuarant Luna Caprese (March 08), when the Danish embassy was blown up next to where my kids to go school in F6 (June '08), and when the police station in Aab Para became yet another suicide bombing statistic (July 08).

And all this was before a truckload of explosives found a convenient parking spot at Marriott sending 60 to an untimely death and taking the life away from remaining 600,000 who still wander around sheepishly in the city. Islamabad the beautiful and Islamabad the peaceful has already had these personal warnings.

Given that we never took to the streets on any of these occasions may explain why our immunity to shameful, cowardly and utterly revolting acts has become so high. Sorry Faisal, we dont care that much to fix our own problem. Sorry Aisah, we are simply not going to go to the streets for national causes.

I know its not music to any patriotic Pakistan (does one exist?), but it is a sad reality of the inertia that has overwhelmed us as a nation.

Despite the shock, anger, and shame that befell on every Pakistani on 3/3, the parochial and nauseatingly never ending news of horse trading and political circus occupied all the headlines on 5/3. Today is 13/3 and not many care what happened ten days ago.

Not music to the ears, but reality. We have nothing to offer but a miserable face, apathy our strongest quality.

Having relocated to Pakistan a year ago, i can tell you that the blood in my veins is still as green as it was when i too was part of the frustrated patriotic diaspora. What may appear as despondency from afar is our ingenious way of dealing with cognitive dissonance.

Bineet said...

Some historians believe that Kolven from Holland and Chole from Belgium influenced the game. The latter was introduced into Scotland in 1421.Golf holidays in Costa del Sol however while these games and countless others are stick and ball games, they are missing that vital ingredient that is unique to golf - the hole.Whatever the argument, there can be no dispute that Scotland gave birth to the game we know as golf today.

analog said...

It is really true.....
Good luck to you homecountry.........



click here