Pakistan’s moment of triumph, and a question for the world
Pakistan’s success in the Twenty20 cricket World Cup must rank as one of sports’ more timely victories. For a state that is supposed to be at war with itself, failing and in danger of fragmentation there cannot be a sweeter way to hit back.
Younus Khan who led his unfancied team comes from the North West Frontier Province, as does Shahid Afridi whose explosive batting took Pakistan to an eight-wicket win over Sri Lanka, another nation wracked by decades of civil war, but coming out of it.
The NWFP is the frontline of the war against the Taliban and al Qaeda that has so blighted the nation, left it divided, bleeding and saddled with a huge refugee problem. Indeed Khan said the World Cup was a gift to the people of Pakistan.
Cricinfo compared Pakistan’s success to a newly-reunified South Africa’s victory in the 1995 Rugby World Cup, saying there had not been a more timely win since then.
Younus also said cricketing nations must resume playing in his troubled, but cricket-mad nation.
“Everybody must come to Pakistan. We need a home test series. How can we attract the youngsters? Players muct come to Pakistan.”
Is the world ready to reconsider? Will India, no stranger to militancy itself, soften up? The 50-over World Cup scheduled for 2011 has been taken away from Pakistan, and is to be played now in only India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. The ICC Champions Trophy that it was scheduled to host last year was shifted out, and Australia, New Zealand and England have refused to play there.
Indeed Pakistan’s cricket authorities have challenged the decision to drop them from the host nations of the 2011 World Cup and it has renewed a call to its co-Asian hosts to support its bid to hold the tournament.
Standing up for cricket in Pakistan may also be a way to challenge the forces of darkness that is the Taliban, argues Tunku Varadarajan in a piece for Forbes. The victory was a monumental boost to a nation drained of all morale.
And cricket, he says “offers an alternative vision of civilization with which Pakistanis can contrast the viciously bleak program of the Taliban.”