THERE has been much sound and fury on the social media about the abrupt cancellation of the cricket tour by New Zealand, the planned cancellation by England, and, indeed, the likely cancellation by Australia.

From senior government functionaries to prominent sportspersons and right down to the social media warriors, everybody is venting anger and spewing venom against the players and the authorities concerned.

Since the decision does not happen to be in our hands, we can only do so much. However, I suggest that we should take this opportunity to do a bit of soul-searching and ponder over some facts that may be bitter, but will help us get some larger perspective on the matter.

It may not have a direct link, but the decision by New Zealand came around the same time as a cleric in Islamabad, the federal capital, intimidated a bunch of security officials overtly when they came to remove a foreign flag from atop a well-known seminary.

The matter also made waves on the social media. The message that went across the world was surely not a positive one. No one will favour Pakistan for ignoring such threats by an individual in the heart of the capital city.

The situation after the American withdrawal from Afghanistan has become critical for Pakistan. To its credit, the government went out of its way to facilitate foreign diplomats and Afghan refugees in chaotic circumstances for which it did get some decent press internationally. However, tolerance for extremist elements within the country may make its role suspicious and the results can be even more disturbing.

The prime minister, having been a former cricketer of tremendous fame, is expected to play a positive role to tackle the situation and make things normal in the country which alone may help us resume international cricket in Pakistan.

N. Abid
Islamabad

Published in Dawn, September 24th, 2021

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