Zardari, Pemra will earn nation's scorn if they touch Geo on match day -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Zardari, Pemra will earn nation’s scorn if they touch Geo on match day

Tariq Butt

ISLAMABAD: The cricket mania that would grip Pakistanis on Wednesday would put on the backburner just for one day every burning issue – cloak-and-dagger departure of Raymond Davis, President Asif Ali Zardari’s alleged massive corruption and misrule, and the lacklustre governance of Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani tarnished by mega scandals – plaguing the nation.

As the build-up shows, the entire nation would be hooked up to the TV screen, forgetting what the Zardari-Gilani duo is doing with this nation. The outcome – Pakistan’s win – will naturally bring joys and smiles to a nation that is stripped of such moments since long for terrorism, ceaseless senseless killings in Karachi, massive price hike, unemployment, power and gas outages and corruption.

President Zardari and his handmaiden, called Pemra, would earn abundant notoriety and scorn if they translate into reality their plot to choke or mangle with the reception of Geo Super on Wednesday (that has the exclusive rights to air world cup matches in exchange for payment of hefty money) in order to merely punish this group for exposing corruption and embezzlement of the rulers and their fawning flunkies.

Apart from inflicting a heavy financial damage on the media group, any illegality will also deprive the Pakistani nation of the unparalleled entertainment in their drawing rooms. Mr President, do think and introspect for a moment why and what are you doing to demolish an asset of Pakistan that has not been built on the taxpayers’ money! If you don’t have any regard for voices of sanity, do honour court orders like rulers in every civilised society otherwise they are doomed.

However, the clash of titans – Pakistan and India – in Mohali will in reality be the grand final of the ICC World Cup before the actual final three days later that the winner of this match will play with Sri Lanka or New Zealand. It has been given the right description of mother of all matches only because of the decades old hostility between the two South Asian nuclear neighbours, who have fought wars and always remain on the brink of an open confrontation.

Not only Pakistani and Indian cricketers would be playing under colossal pressure, but the people of the two sides would also remain under heavy stress and strain while watching the finale with bated breath. The ICC’s decision has given an obvious psychological edge of the home ground to India that would obviously play a part because it would find a supporting crowd that does not cherish any healthy sportsman’s spirit.

This small-mindedness was witnessed during India’s match with Australia in the quarterfinals when a graveyard like silence always gripped the jam-packed stadium whenever Aussies hit even boundaries or sixers. But the crowd kept cheering even when the India cricketers have played no remarkable stroke or bowled no good ball. Umpires would be under remarkably less pressure because of the introduction of the high-tech in deciding LBW and run-out.

The best decision that the ICC could have taken was to shift the Pakistan-India semi-final to Sri Lanka, and the Sri Lanka-New Zealand similar encounter to India so that neither India nor Sri Lanka has the advantage of the home crowd. Again, Pakistan would be at a great disadvantage if it would play the final (of course after defeating India in the semi-final) with Sri Lanka or New Zealand in Mumbai.

Obnoxious and foul scenes to be created by the Indian crowd to harass and unnerve Pakistani cricketers cannot be ruled out if the past is any guide. Throwing of empty cans and other rubbish on the players is widely apprehended. Particularly when the Indian team would get a battering, ugly reaction from the spectators would certainly emerge.

No doubt, it would be an uphill task for Indian authorities to maintain calm, and law and order after their team would be routed. The Indians have a history of violently reacting, and especially when it comes to Pakistan, they do not keep calm. Umpires would certainly have a great responsibility on their shoulders to react and adjudicate if and when Pakistani players were subjected to any indecent behaviour by the crowd.

While Pakistani bowlers have a huge edge over their Indian counterparts, India has a better batting line-up till the end compared to that of Pakistan. But if Pakistani openers come out with flying colours and repeat their game that they put up against the West Indies, their bowlers have the expertise and knack to restrain Indians. Although Pakistan has won all the four matches played at Mohali in the past, vagaries of the sports, called cricket, cannot be spurned altogether. It is a highly unpredictable game in which the assessments of recognised and reputed pundits can fall flat. Had it not been so, nonentity like Ireland would not have beaten England and Bangladesh would not have defeated England, which came out to be the biggest upsets of the present world cup.

As it came conclusive after the round of quarterfinals that Pakistan and India would play the semi-final on March 30, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh played a smart one by inviting his Pakistani counterpart to watch the grand encounter. However, it will be known later who – Gilani or Singh – bowled googlies and bouncers, and who hit the boundaries or sixers during their parleys off the cricket field.

But this did revive the cricket diplomacy that has been played between the two countries in the past as well. It would be a different story that this diplomacy has not persuaded the two sides to change their stand on a host of unresolved issues including Kashmir. However, in countries like Pakistan and India, which always disagree on multitudes of issues, the cricket diplomacy is not a bad idea. It does ease tensions, maybe for the time being.
Source: The News