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Is Pakistan 'ready' for internationals?

Published Apr 16, 2012 05:34pm


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In 2006 Angola was awarded the right to host the 2010 African Cup of Nations (AfCON). Wary of the global importance of this – and how it would set the ‘image’ of the country – the Angolan government decided that one of the four venues for the tournament would be Cabinda. Cabinda – an exclave of the country – had been the ground for a separatist movement since independence. The decision to have Cabinda as one of the host cities was to show the world of how peaceful – and therefore under the government’s control – Cabinda truly was.

A year prior to the 2010 AfCON, Sri Lanka had decided to tour Pakistan. Their motivation had been the same as the teams visiting Cabinda: they were trying to show that normalcy existed in these lands.

On 3rd March 2009 the Sri Lankan cricket team was attacked in Lahore, leading to the deaths of seven Pakistanis. On 8th January 2010, the bus carrying the Togo national football team was attacked in Cabinda which led to the death of three people – including the assistant coach of the team. For decades, regimes throughout the world had used sport to provide an illusion of something which wasn’t there. Now, it seemed, it was time for the terrorists to make sure that didn’t happen. The push from all sides in the importance of sport had meant that sportspeople had become an automatic target for publicity for the latest of monstrous deeds.

Over the past five years Pakistan has seen the deaths of thousands of its citizens and army men. Despite a reduction in the violence (of the terrorism kind) in the past few months, there have still been a number of attacks in the 2012 alone. It is with this as context that one questions the ideas that Zaka Ashraf is proposing.

I was watching the Serie A highlights a week or so back, and noticed that all the matches had a minute’s silence for the death of a soldier in Afghanistan. It felt a little odd. Then I realised that perhaps, to the Italians, the deaths of their countrymen were not mere statistics and numbers from which they had to ‘move on’ at any given opportunity. Maybe they weren’t as blasé for the sake of showing ‘resilience.’

But I digress; this is supposed to be about sports.

Surely, the proposals for international teams and players to tour Pakistan should come when we have reached a semblance of normalcy and peace. Instead we have decided to assume our existing state as normalcy. What do we have to gain from a tour? An improvement in the image of the country? For the sake of what? A probable attack and the loss of lives for guests of this country? We are told that they’ll be provided maximum security: this, a country which couldn’t protect its most popular leader and the governor of the largest province (in addition to many other parliamentarians and mere plebs whose lives apparently count for less) in the past five years alone. The reluctance of many to visit Pakistan may have something to do with how much they value their lives – rather than a vast conspiracy by the BCCI.

Or I could be completely wrong.

If you had a headache, and you were given several pills – one of which contained cyanide – how willing would you be to take that? The PCB looks quite keen.

What else could we do then?

Well, these last three years should have been taken up as an opportunity by the PCB to reform the local game. Domestic cricket had nothing to rival it during this time. We could have used this time to finally have a consistent and reasonable calendar, and teams. What we have now are tournaments which have city and department teams (QeA Trophy and the National OD Cup), those which have provincial teams (Pentangular) and those which have city-based franchises (the T20 tournaments), spread seemingly randomly over the cricket season. How hard is it to combine it all, really? Why not have a merger of HBL and Karachi Dolphins, for example, to compete in all formats of the game. The Dolphins have an ever-increasing fan-base, the Karachi City Cricket Association can provide the structure, and HBL can be the commercial backer. And with no international cricket on these shores, this is something which could take off. Instead what we have done in the past three years is increase the number of T20s. Oh, how original.

Now, the Pakistan Premier League is being proposed. The blind copying by many cricket boards of the IPL is quite staggering. How long before we have ten domestic T20 Premier Leagues, mercenaries dotting the globe for their latest hits and giggles, and another round of forgettable and meaningless cricket – to them, at least.

How about being innovative for once? Or even if we are copying, why not cast the net a little further? Rather than several domestic leagues, why don’t Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and even Afghanistan join forces for one big ‘Asian Premier League’ (and I know that the politics of it mean it would face much resistance). After all, it works in rugby union – where SupeRugby has five regional franchises from each of South Africa, Australia and New Zealand who contest a supremely popular tournament, and have done so for 16 years now. Sure, you have the same problem with international players reluctant to host Pakistan, but this can be solved by having the tournament, alternatively, in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, for now. And when the situation in AfPak (coining a new term here) is more stable, we can have a tournament which has the ability to last the long haul. And it would have a bigger market (the word most favourite of an administrator) than any of the domestic leagues, which would mean more money. And that is all that matters to cricket boards, isn’t it?

Instead we are going to continue being conservative, let the domestic game rot, and continue to plead for international teams to visit us, so that we can go back to the old days. After all, that will solve everything.

The writer is a sports nerd, and does not believe that opinions other than his own are valid. He can be found presenting his opinions as fact on his blog and twitter.

The views expressed by this blogger and in the following reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.


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The views expressed by this writer and commenters below do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.

Comments (41) Closed

AL Apr 20, 2012 01:13pm
Mad props to you sire for producing an amazing sequel of AjmalKasab-Geo episode. Really looking forward to your piece on something like MazharMajeed-NOTW saga before PPL.
vijay india Apr 17, 2012 03:10pm
India should tour Pakistan to revive the subcontinent cricket. To start with India should play either in Lahore or Karachi instead of peshawar/quetta/hyd, hoping that Lahore and Karachi will be safe.
Silajit Apr 17, 2012 02:38am
As silly (or at the very least - unrealistic with regard to the security situation) as I think the Pakistan Cricket Board is being, it boggles my mind when I think about the lunacy on part of the Bangladeshi Cricket Board.
Abhishek Apr 17, 2012 12:04pm
Azhar Apr 17, 2012 11:42am
Security is in the hands of security heads and security personnel. If our intelligence agencies will work effectively and our people are seen united and come forward as one for the betterment of the country, we can achieve peaceful games. Foreign elements and their intervention must be erased from our society, who are blamed funding, aiding and abetting the terrorists, then everything will go smooth and fine. I agree, there is a security concern but security lapse has to be addressed. We must have IPL go signal, which will be helpful in bringing prosperity. Let us focus the game and do utmost to make it grow in our country. Never give in!
Ali Apr 17, 2012 02:30am
What you guys don't know is Srilanka cricket board is completely funded by BCCI. They even provide direct cash when the Srilankan board has shortage of money and that is long debt carrying forward. So rule Srilanka and India out, what's left? Bangladesh and AF, so that becomes BPL and we all know it was semi-international show at the max if not domestic.
kibria bangladesh Apr 17, 2012 02:36am
lets see what going on god ll save us
Imran Adeel Haider Apr 16, 2012 06:45pm
Absolutely agreed. We should not host the matches yet. And the BD team is being invited at the cost of Pakistan relinquishing the spot for ICC chairmanship.
Majid Apr 16, 2012 06:46pm
No chance of mistake.But let's hope for best this time.
Majid Ali Shar Apr 16, 2012 07:26pm
In pakistan,there is only cricket through which we entertain,otherwise there are only suicide bombs,conflict between political rivals on getting the chair of to rule.there is only one way to show ourself,that is good performance of playing cricket,through cricket we can make a good image of pakistan.
FMM Apr 16, 2012 10:17pm
Let me just put it this way, I am a born in Pakistani and I haven't visited my homeland in 14 years. I do not feel SAFE, you can imagine how the international cricketers feel. Cricket is just a game, lets get our country together first, it's falling into pieces.
sohail Apr 16, 2012 10:10pm
absolutely gud move frm pcb...we hav to orananize a standard ppl instead of so many odd 20 tournaments...
yarana Apr 16, 2012 10:08pm
As pakistani I am very concerned about bangladeshi team all these mullahs and taliban running around scares me not to mention all the killings but I have to say (SALUTE to all those security personnel will be putting their life on the line for this event and they know they will be 1st to die ,like the brave and fallen comrades at sri lankan incident my heart still bleeds for them and I will never forget them and remind every one of their bravery as long as I Iive and as a nation we should honour them every year
Majid Apr 16, 2012 06:42pm
Security! is the issue here, and believe me, We are not at our best to provide a fool proof security. So Now 'even a smallest mistake 'll be much more than enough to keep us away from cricket for centuries, i guess'. But let's hope for best this time.
Nauman Apr 17, 2012 07:24am
Full of false analogies and crap.....comparing Pakistan with Angola, comparing a cricket match with a wide open, mob throbbing Jalsa, ofcourse you can compare apples and oranges.
Rahim Malik Apr 17, 2012 06:50am
If i was a Pakistani, I wudn't want any international cricket team visit at this point in time. Not worth the risk.
JK Apr 17, 2012 09:05pm
The writer of this article is a confused man himself. He starts good and later talks about starting an Asian premier league and to host it in Srilanka and Bangladesh. Are we not talking about bringing international teams to this country.
Haris Apr 17, 2012 05:12pm
or.... we call them and prove to world tht pak is safe... through our joint effort. Security will be fool proof insha Allah.
tikki Apr 17, 2012 04:01am
I can already here two terms being used,fool proof and leaving no stones unturned lol.The term fool proof is for our officials,who are the biggest fools to use such words.I don't think they even know what it means.In every event they use them repeatedly and in every event or incident,people lose their lives.I listen to our officials and government like I listen to my weather man,those poor souls have no clue.I agree,this is not the right time to be a host,we as a country cannot afford to give another reason for the world to talk bad about us.The timing is wrong,the atmosphere is unstable,the Government is not reliable,the police department is undisciplined and our officials are clueless and greedy.This is all about money,not image.If it was about our countries image,we would think twice about it and never go with this idea.
debashish Apr 16, 2012 07:52pm
well the srilankan episode is still fresh in the memories of people all over the world as how 5 terrorist brought the whole pakistan to complete standstill. These terrorist made a complete mockery of pakistani security establisment.and exposed their hollow claims of full proof security to individuals when the whole srilankan team got a lucky escape thanx to the great presence of mind shown by bus to expect n such a crumbling security senario that any team will visit pakistan just on the insistence of pcb on respective boards is a foolish it will take a long while when the international cricket will visit to pakistan .
mediagag Apr 18, 2012 05:30pm
And I quote: "Sure, you have the same problem with international players reluctant to host Pakistan, but this can be solved by having the tournament, alternatively, in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, for now. And when the situation in AfPak (coining a new term here) is more stable, we can have a tournament which has the ability to last the long haul." Next time, read before you comment.
Rashid Apr 16, 2012 08:56pm
Lahore at spot. It got chance to replace bad memories of 2009, by great memmories of 2012 of jubilation and welcoming back of international cricket to pakistan. May god bless our country and keep us and every one in pakistan safe, for ever and ever.
A. Iqbal Apr 16, 2012 07:09pm
I totally agree with the views on International cricket in Pakistan and strongly share the writers suggestion on an Asian IPL, even if it has to be without India.
Saim Apr 16, 2012 09:11pm
There is NO reason why we should have international teams come to Pakistan. There is no security. Please have some sense, even the most minor incident would be a catastrophe on the image of the country, we are already bashed,battered and badly bruised. Please do not completely destroy us.
majid ali shar Apr 16, 2012 07:21pm
yes u are true.we have to provide fully security to every country's team as they restore their believe on our security.
syed Apr 16, 2012 06:15pm
Sir, only with marketing and international interest comes into play, the game makes money. Everyone is running after it. Introducing an own League is important....and dont forget, then we can compete in CLs or other equivalent cups. So that the hype about cricket goes beyond Australia, India, Pakistan and England. We need sponsors, money and cricket played on our soil. To let ppl know we are still very stable. And we are indeed, conflicts exist every where. Even in Countries like South Africa. If now foreign powers use our grounds to attack foreigners, then It's hard to keep control of it. As an good example you have all foreign based attacks on and in every country which is experiencing these odds. Terror is everywhere....we cannot hide or run, we need to face facts, that it will keep continuing so we cannot sit back and let them take away our rights! One bombing in Italy, will also not ban other football teams to visit this city/country. The play must go on!
Dr. Salaria, Aamir A Apr 18, 2012 07:36pm
Great ideas, positive thinking and good presentation. However, the writer should realize that the world we all live in today is different than our innovative thoughts and brilliant ideas. The 'movers and shakers' of the world want to do things their way only and do not accord any acceptance or admittance to any so-called novel ideas whatsoever directly or indirectly, explicitly or implicitly, knowingly or unknowingly. Similarly, the world of cricket is no exception to this prevailing and powerful rule. The 'big brother' for various reasons, elaboration on which is beyond the scope and design of this short 'comment/observation,' has the final say in all matters related to international and sometimes even domestic cricket affairs on global basis. At the same time, fortunately or unfortunately, we all live in a world where even in sports, money walks and money talks. Therefore who so ever has the big bucks, rules and dictates. The sooner we all realize it the better. Nevertheless, there is no harm in creating new ideas, innovating techniques and out-standing theories and presenting them on great forums like the one 'Dawn' has offered to all of us.
Maria Apr 18, 2012 08:04am
and how do you know that
badsha Jan Apr 18, 2012 08:20am
Although this is good omen that PCB is trying to bring back international cricket to Pakistan. Every Pakistan is hailing their efforts and strong diplomacy. But we can not challenge the concerns of foreigners regarding the security situation of Pakistan. Up to now no was punished for attacks over Sri Lankan team. It is a question mark that who were the attackers from where they came and gone. What is the competency level of police what the level of their fool proof security arragenments. All were just fake and immeterial promises. I think first we need to be clear and sincere to our national integrity the force us to consider us as peaceful and sports loving nation.
Mumtaz.rizvi Apr 18, 2012 01:49pm
I agree with you brother
Danial Tariq Apr 19, 2012 04:07am
yea you are right in the sense, that how can we protect our guest when as a nation we can't protect ourself. Leave the people, Police can't protect itself. Just see the Banu incident. In this situation, this is a GAMBLE..Instead of begging other nations y shdnt we have our own domestic events. We donot need anyone else to prove our image..We are definately a great nation..The idea of PPL or other domestic events is great and they shd happen at even bigger scale, that is enough for us rather then asking other to visit when they don't have to..It is really time to develop our domestic cricket!!
Danial Tariq Apr 19, 2012 04:16am
Well you know very well what is going on...But I don't understand y u ppl make things so complicated..You shd have given a good will gesture rather then saying GOD SAVE US!! y u ppl, don't have ur own opinion..U are just follower of the big CAT in ur neighbour..litterally so much influenced by them...
Danial Tariq Apr 19, 2012 04:19am
when u havent visited ur country so how come u know abt it..u r just a part of ppl who make fuss of things..
Haroon Apr 23, 2012 04:47am
Pakistan might be ready for Internationals in Pakistan, but unfortunately, none of the international teams are ready for Pakistan yet.
tikki Apr 20, 2012 03:27pm
Ever heard of the "INTERNET"
abdul Apr 21, 2012 01:24am
WRITER - I want to commend the writer on an excellent article. I am sure that there are certain "elements" in Pakistan which would like to give the Government another "bloodnose" in front of the international community.So why risk another attack on another team ? That would put Pakistan back about 10-20 years. PAKISTANIS should reclaim their country from those wishing to isolate Pakistan from within. The danger exists that pakistanis could become paranoid and believe that the whole world is against it and thereby "shooting itself in the foot". No reasonable test-playing nation will visit Pakistan under the present threat. Pakistanis should take "time out" and ask "where is the threat "?
ram Apr 21, 2012 12:26pm
no way can we allow a super league of countries like Srilanka, Bangladesh, pakistan etc., What happens to IPL then? This idea must be nipped in bud right now.
Raül Pope Farg& Apr 21, 2012 05:31pm
I hadn't gotten around to reading it before now, but you're bang on the money! Self-indulge in this: any offence people take at your words is simply because they're busy admiring the paper that hangs over the cracks and instead of seeing the wall for what it is, they believe it to be fully wallpapered. I think it's the best post I've read of yours and I'm looking forward to any you write in the future. Sport and politics perhaps shouldn't mix, but they do and the reaction to your blog is something I have been meaning to write about: how much sport is politics because it reflects how a country sees itself. I also really like your ideas about the future of cricket for Pakistan and you're right to show that by simply following the crowd Pakistan will never lead it.
qazi Apr 23, 2012 12:54pm
no 1 shud come to pakistan now
Guest Apr 23, 2012 01:04pm
Hassan Cheema , In the Good old days when the country was safe , sound and tranquile and all the countries were visiting us to play Cricket .... One Big beefie (he is called now a days ) hasten to add SIr else the queen will sue me for contemp of her Majesty's honor list ! Opinioned "Pakistan is a country where I would not like even my mother in law to be sent ! " Mind you this was some odd 20+ years ago that a free flowing brit has to say this about our situation ....... what he would say now ........ Your guess is as good as any 7+billions human beings on this earth ....... I as a patriot Pakistani at that time DID NOT appreciate his remarks , But ask me now , I would not send my own mother in law too(she happens to be non Pakistani who would love to visit Nothern areas ! ) .... Does that make me traitor and ani Pakistani ? .... Either we are fools or we are realists , do decide yourself , and once done , go and ask those 35000 people who lost their loved ones in these 30+YEARS OR so ask those 7 innocent lives family DO any body even care to think of them now .............. Nothing should be normal Till we get our country at least to that level where We would Love to tell Sir Beafy , your honor , we are ready to accept and wellcome your Mother in law , back to this land of pures
Salman Baloch May 10, 2012 02:14am
we should make uae are cricket home and even open a PCB office in the sports city of dubai....... most of the money comes through t.v rights and advertising.... start PPL or whatever you want to call it.... sell the teams to big companies in Pakistan... Banks, telecommunication etc.. they are sitting on cash... sell the rights to GEO ... bring the money in.... living and housing in dubai is not as expensive as it use to be .... the board can muster up a good deal for local players.... sports city is closer to places like silicon oasis and international city.... economics can be worked out.... pcb should stop wasting time in a futile proposition of convincing teams to visit... our own relatives living abroad dont feel safe when they visit... we ourselves dont feel safe... the army and the police dont feel safe.. who are we fooling ? This is a 5 year plan... till then Inshallah Pakistan's condition would have changed.