Pakistan Cricket’s resilient resurgence and India – CT 2017

Pakistan Cricket’s resilient resurgence and India – CT 2017

It would be an understatement to say that Pakistan’s decisive victory over India the other day made me happy. I’ll admit that I was ecstatic bordering on euphoric, not only because I had been constantly praying for them to make a ridiculously impossible comeback in the tournament, but also because it was the first time in almost 15 years that I saw the team playing with such energy and determination. It was heartening to see them diving all over the place, attacking the wickets and taking jabs at every other ball. This tournament brought out the side in them that I had been longing to see!

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The team which once ruled the Cricketing world in all formats of the game had been reduced to whipping boys in the mid 2000’s, and could be counted on to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Mired in fixing scandals, administrative ineptitude and politicization, cricket in Pakistan was dying a slow death. The situation was intensified by the menace of terrorism which had been haunting the country since 2006 and which lead to every international team refusing to play in Pakistan.

I was happy to see the unifying force of sport that made everyone forget about the plethora of social and political ills that have for so long been plaguing the country. I was also pleased to see many Indians congratulating Pakistanis on the win and hoping for a revival of the team.

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I write this post not to take jabs at the Indian team, neither is it an attempt to undermine their achievements. I would however like the people of India to take a practical step in exercising their democratic powers and request their authorities to restore Cricketing ties with Pakistan. Restoration of India-Pakistan cricket (including home series) would go a long way in restoring faith between the two countries, and would also make it easier to convince international teams to return to Pakistan. India is after all one of the most influential members of the ICC and has a major stake in all of its decisions. It is a known fact that India has been refusing to play bilateral cricket with Pakistan for over 5 years now, and has lobbied internationally to ensure that Cricket doesn’t return to Pakistan any time soon. The idea of isolating Pakistan is not new, and has been around for over 10 years.

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While many disagree, there is indeed a major group of hardliners in India that influences the policies of the BCCI and the Indian government when it comes to ties with Pakistan. This was evident during the years leading up to the 2011 Cricket World Cup, which was scheduled to be hosted collectively between India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Pakistan’s hosting rights were taken away after the Sri Lankan team was attacked in Lahore, and international players including those from India cited security concerns about playing in Pakistan. I sincerely believe that had Pakistan been allowed to host that world cup, Cricket would have returned much earlier to the country. Similar was the case of the 2009 Champions Trophy, which was stripped away from Pakistan after several countries withdrew their diplomatic support. It was in these moments that Pakistan needed India’s support the most, which it withheld.

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The Indian Premier League bans Pakistani players from participating in it, which has had an obvious impact on the physical and psychological state of our players. Whether this is due to political reasons is debatable, but there have been incidents involving Pakistani commentators as well who were told to leave India due to pressure and threats by hardline groups. And while the cricketing world evolved with the annual T20 event, Pakistan was conveniently left out of the fray, ensuring that its team would be unable to keep up. It would be a major step at creating goodwill if Pakistani players are included in the next IPL tournament.

Despite everything, the international boycott, the labels, the lack of adequate training regimes and public disapproval, the Pakistani team still manages to somehow defy the odds and produce a memorable performance.

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I’ve read quite a few ‘odes’ to Pakistan’s ‘unbelievable’ victories recently, calling for ‘more power’ to the team and thanking them for restoring the faith of people in ‘underdogs’. I’m sure it was well received.

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But voicing disapproval would go a longer way rather than conveniently playing the role of silent observers when hardliners and hate mongers demonize Pakistan in the name of ideology.

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Reflections on Jinnah – Part 4

Reflections on Jinnah – Part 4

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‘One of the reasons that I am very fond of this movie is its ability to precisely describe the state of affairs in India under the Raj. The following scene depicts the years of the Great War (WWI), when the British recruited thousands of Indian soldiers to fight in Europe against the Axis powers.

Pertinent to note here is that the British had shifted all military recruitment from Bengal, Madras and Bombay to the Northern and Western regions of India (i.e. Punjab, Kashmir, Himachal, Baluchistan, NWF) after the 1857 War of Independence.

Despite countless services by Indians in the defense of Britain (e.g Khudadad Khan – Victoria Cross at the First Battle of Ypres – British equivalent to Nishan e Haider & Vir Chakra), the British would never allow Indians to join the Army as Officers.

Jinnah was one of the few Indian lawyers at the time who advocated equality for Indians who were laying down theirs lives for the Empire. Jinnah’s advocacy continued through out the period, as a member of the Indian National Congress Party.

The British responded by delaying matters until the war ended, and later in 1923 introduced the ‘Indianisation reforms’, which were supposed to create quotas for Indians applying as Officers to government services. This was of course just to be done on paper, as British officers and civil servants alike resented the idea of Indians being their superiors.

The Indianisation reforms did however initiate the process which was in 1938 to result in the formation of the Indian Military Academy (IMA) at Dehradun, and in 1948 as the Pakistan Military Academy (PMA) at Kakul.

(Note: I believe this scene was shot in one of the halls of the King Edward Medical College, Lahore.)

Video Credits: Jamil Dehlavi & Akbar S. Ahmed

#Jinnah
#PakistanAt70′

Reflections on Jinnah – Part 3

Reflections on Jinnah – Part 3

Please do comment and share.

‘By 1946, the political landscape of India had changed quite dramatically. The Muslim League, which had only a decade earlier descended into obscurity after continuous internal rifts and political estrangement, had risen under the leadership of Jinnah to become the 2nd largest party of India. Jinnah had assumed its leadership after his return from a self-imposed political exile in England, and was determined to safeguard the rights of the Indian Muslims at all costs.

What, one might ask, had lead to Jinnah’s fierce conviction that Muslims in a United India would be reduced to 2nd class citizens? For starters, the Muslim representatives in the various political parties of India at the time were by no means popular leaders. They were too few and too powerless, in terms of both political acumen and vision, to claim to represent the 2nd largest religious community of India. The Muslims in the Congress were no different, overshadowed and silenced by their Hindu superiors.

Jinnah’s political ideology had always been opposed to communal differences (which was evident in his years of advocacy for Hindu Muslim unity), but due to the persistent projection of an ancient Hindu civilization that had been ravaged and destroyed by the ‘invaders’ and its convenient acceptance by Congress leaders, and also due to the symbolism that adorned all of the political initiatives undertaken by the Congress, Jinnah had come to conclude that the Muslims of India would sooner or later be forced to assimilate into the fold, being unable to resist against the massive majority group.

Secondly, when the Cabinet Mission was sent to India after the end of WWII to discuss transfer of power with a proposition of grouping together Muslim majority provinces in the East and West of India at par with the Hindu majority provinces and the remaining Princely States, Nehru cited a vicious disagreement with the idea of giving Muslim majority provinces an equal status of representation in the Central government.

Jinnah agreed initially, aware of the fact that the plan dismissed the creation of a separate Muslim state, but insisted on the ‘safeguards and assurances’ that were to be provided to the groupings in terms of Provincial Autonomy. This should be taken as proof of his commitment to securing the rights of Indian Muslims even in a United India after all that had transpired (e.g. 1937 Congress Ministries etc), and is enough to debunk the claims that he was a communally charged opportunist.

Realizing that the Muslim League had now come at par with the Congress, and that Jinnah’s claims of representing ALL the Muslims of India had been justified, the Congress rejected both proposals and did not draft any resolutions in their working committee regarding them. The Viceroy still invited Congress members to join the interim coalition government. Jinnah’s patience had run out by that time, and he had realized that the Congress would never accept the logical and just demands of the Muslim community. He subsequently rejected all plans for a coalition government or any type of system that denied an independent Muslim country.

After the League’s boycott, the Congress readily joined the interim government, all the while conveniently neglecting the demands of the second largest political party of India and the minority community that it represented.’

Video Credits: Jamil Dehlavi & Akbar S. Ahmed

#Jinnah
#PakistanAt70′

Reflections on Jinnah – Part 2

Reflections on Jinnah – Part 2

The second in the series on Jinnah. This is a fairly longer video clip. I decided to add a few subtitles in the video too, as some of the dialogue can be difficult to make out for an average viewer. Please do leave a comment and let me know your opinion on the video and the analysis.

‘The Mountbattens had arrived in India in February 1947, and were commissioned by the British Government to transfer power to Indians whilst extricating all British personnel from the country.

Lord Mountbatten, the New Viceroy of India, perceived Nehru to be a more liberal minded and enlightened leader, who would set the newly independent country on a course that wouldn’t collide with British interests and would play a positive role in global affairs. Nehru was Cambridge bred, belonged to a wealthy upper class Brahmin family and was revered in both political and religious circles.

Reflections on Jinnah – Part 1

Reflections on Jinnah – Part 1

Thought i’d find an excuse to restart this near desolate blog. This is part of a video series on the 1997 British-Pakistani film ‘Jinnah’, directed by Jamil Dehlavi and written by Akbar S. Ahmed. I shall be recording my thoughts on the videos as well, which would be based on solid historical evidence and will be grounded in academic research on the founder of Pakistan, Muhammad Ali Jinnah.

I’d also like to point out that this film is one of my all time favorites, not only because of the fact that it portrays accurately the great leader of my country and the historical events surrounding him, but also because of the brilliant performances by the actors in this film. The late Sir Christopher Lee considered this film to be his best performance, and lamented the fact that the western media would suppress his reviews because of it being a depiction of a Muslim leader. Richard Lintern’s depiction of a young Jinnah accurately showcased his brilliant acting skills.

Rishi Kapoor, who is currently on the payroll of the BJP and the RSS apparently, portrayed an Angel (presumably) designated to determine where to send Jinnah after his passing, brilliant nonetheless in his contribution. Indira Verma played the late wife of Jinnah, Ruttie and accurately captured her beauty and glamour. And lastly, Shireen Shah played the role of Jinnah’s sister, Fatima, who I believe was most convincing in the manner of her appearance and demeanor.

Would recommend everyone to watch this movie, which is by no means a fictional account of the Indian Independence Movement.

(Note: The above link is for the video clip i’ve mentioned in the post. The link somehow isnt getting embedded properly, but the video works just fine. Do click on the link and watch.)

Memory

Late in May as the light lengthens
toward summer the young goldfinches
flutter down through the day for the first time
to find themselves among fallen petals
cradling their day’s colors in the day’s shadows
of the garden beside the old house
after a cold spring with no rain
not a sound comes from the empty village
as I stand eating the black cherries
from the loaded branches above me
saying to myself Remember this

-W. S. Merwin.

Voices over Water

There are spirits that come back to us
when we have grown into another age
we recognize them just as they leave us
we remember them when we cannot hear them
some of them come from the bodies of birds
some arrive unnoticed like forgetting
they do not recall earlier lives
and there are distant voices still hoping to find us”

―W.S. Merwin, Garden Time

Powerful.