Sunday, December 30, 2007

If they played baseball in Pakistan

Given that the vast majority of visitors to Grub Street are North American it seemed a bad move to mention cricket in the headline. I will let you conjure with the baseball proposition, but will discuss the real game, well real to we Australians and to Pakistanis among others.

Among the pantheon of cricketing greats is one Imran Khan, former Pakistan captain and current leader of one of the countries smaller parties Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (Pakistan Movement for Justice). Though the party is small, in a country where personality rules, Imran Khan ensures it punches above its weight.

Khan, the chairman of the party is also the Chancellor of the University of Bradford, England. He has a BA in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics and is a Master of Arts of the University of Oxford. You are going to here more from this man in the future as one of the louder pro-democracy voices in Pakistan.

Khan has demanded Musharraf's resignation in the backdrop of former Premier Benazir Bhutto's assassination. Emphasising the need for the opposition parties to come together against Musharraf, he said that free and fair elections were needed for the restoration of democracy in Pakistan. He will continue to speak out on this issue, but what does he stand for?

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf represents a slice of the countries middle class voters, one of its current aims is to remove the military from political power. But more to the point they are seeking a sustainable democracy for the country.

Khan has recently put forward a solution for Pakistan's issues related to its system which is probably indicative of the thrust. His solution has three points:

  1. Independent Election Commission
  2. Independent Judiciary
  3. Independent Accountability Bureau

Keep an eye out for Imran and wish him and his party well.

"Our future and the future of our children is at stake and we must show that we made a stand. The truth is with you so there is no need to fear the consequences!" -- Imran Khan, Sep 20 2007

The India cricket team are currently touring Australia, which is a sort of blessing. Try as you might you can’t keep politics out of sport, certainly not at international level at least.

But Australia is due to tour Pakistan in March and our elite cricketers are understandably nervous, as are their families. A batsman might show a heap of bravery facing a 5 1/2 oz cricket ball hurtling at him at 90 miles an hour, but a country in chaos is another matter altogether.

The other side of the coin is that depriving the people of Pakistan of the diversion of a test match series could and probably would inflame frustration and anger. The last tour was relocated to Bangladesh because of security fears.

The Pakistani authorities are at pains to express guarantees for the safety of players, but they clearly cannot provide appropriate levels of security in the country. It seems increasingly likely Musharraf will be gone before March, but there are no clear signs of an easy succession.

Sports diplomacy has been effective in the past, but it also has its casualties. I admire Imran’s stand for his country and would love to see the Aussie team complete the tour, but I can also understand the concerns of players and their families in this situation.


enigma4ever said...

okay...I have only half read this....but I had to say something....BUT when you left the comment over at Watergate that you had posted something related to Cricket on the Bhutto post - I was secretly hoping that you would write about Kahn, I even scoured UK papers yesterday trying to see if there was any kind of statement by him...or was he still under house arrest ( I thought he was earlier in the fall...)....Okay I just wanted to say THANK made my Sunday....

okay ...back to the post ;-)

enigma4ever said...

Oh this is a great post..He is so interesting...( and he was such a great player , I have only seen tapes of him playing- because of being an AIDS nurse, long story, but we had a huge Cricket fan at the Hospice , a long time ago..and he used to have tapes sent to him from all of us UK 3am we used to pile in his room to watch those tapes...) Anyways I am off subject.....

I really respect what I read about him last fall, and he roused my curiousity...and in a Country stuggling to find his way he is wise enough to realize that he is respected and honored and not top abuse it due to his celebrity...I love the quote you put here...I dont think "democracy" is interrepted by all peoples the same way, but for a country stricken with tribal complications and intricacies, for the Political people to make the effort to steer the Country in another direction other than Military Leadership is very brave.....It was why I also respected Bhutto ( regardless of what others thought of her) I respected that she wanted her children and all children there to have a better future....

About the team traveling there, that is a difficult thing....I hope and pray that they and the Game is Loved enough that that love/loyalty will protect them....

I also agree with you that sports are sometimes a part of the catharsis and healing....the Need to Have SOMEONE to root believe in....and if people can share creates bonds and yes....Heals.

Thanks for a great post...


Cartledge said...

Thanks enigma, you have been busy. My home turned into a drop in centre at 6 am today, fortunately people I like, so I'll get to comments later.
On you comments here, I must admit you inspired the thinking and I wrote with you in mind. So again, thank you.

abi said...

Given that the vast majority of visitors to Grub Street are North American it seemed a bad move to mention cricket in the headline.

We have crickets in North America, the most famous being Jiminy.

Cartledge said...

Abi, if I didn’t know you better I’d think you were taking the piss out of me.
The first ever official international cricket match was played between the US and Canada in 1844, (just a few days after my forebears landed in Van Diemen's Land I note). It is also supposed to be the oldest international sporting event in the modern world, predating even today's Olympic Games by nearly 50 years.
I guess everyone must have become bored with that game. Shame, you are missing a wonderful sport.

Enigma, following up… I recall seeing Imran play in Tasmania, where the cricket grounds are small enough to be personal. He had a very imperious bearing, unlike his open and friendly team mates. But no one expected less of him. As a player he was solid and a delight to watch.
He is the only elected member of his party, but I think his name carries a lot more weight than that. He is, at the very least, a powerful voice in calls against the military regime. Sadly he is also a potential target, for that very reason.
I admire people like him and Benazir who could just as easily stay in England or the US and stir the pot from a distance. Unfortunately Pakistan is still old world enough to require the very personal presence among huge crowds.

enigma4ever said...

Thank you for writing this, and that you wrote knowing that I would understand and appreciate it...and indeed I am grateful...who would have thought that 3am Late Night Videos at an AIDS Hospice would lead to a politcal discussion of such magnitude..and is chilling really...

It was a wonderful post...sadly we don't know what will happen- and yes he is a Double Target- for being brave and influential. but also I think that him being a Sports Star might even make his risks double....

But he is eloquent and thoughtful , and I have been reading him about him tonight...I think in some ways he did have even more clarity than Bhutto about the situation...maybe I think that could be from years of playing Cricket...??

thank you again....we will all watch and hold our breath....