Our cricket and our politics have a lot of similarities. Whenever we have our hopes pinned on a team captain or party head to lead the country to the victory stand, complete with full-throated support and participation of the home crowd, our expectations are dashed to the ground at the last moment. It has happened to us so many times that we have opted for cynicism or realism, as opposed to optimism as a way of life. Our track record is quite like the remark that “we have a way of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory!” This happened at the India-Pakistan match in Bangladesh in the recently concluded Asian Cup Tournament. And although our team won in the final with Bangladesh in a classic nail-biting finish, which could have gone either way until the very last ball, there was no great joy in defeating Bangladesh because we were and remain on their side too.
Despite the mass of land in between that physically separates us, there remains a bond with Bangladesh and its people that can never be severed. The goodwill most Pakistanis have for Bangladeshis was so apparent in their game against one another too, as there were no underlying currents. As in most areas of national development, the Bengalis have shown grit and determination in mastering the game of cricket too, to be at par with the rest of the cricket-playing countries of South Asia. They played brilliantly throughout this tournament and defeated established giants with aplomb. As tears of disappointment rolled from some of the Bangla players’ eyes at the conclusion of the match, a friend remarked: “I have never been so unhappy about winning!”
In the same vein as the PPP is defending the contempt case with all sorts of arguments, including that of the bench being prejudiced in its assessment of the Prime Minister, and even if they win this case, it will remain a win that wasn’t. This case has already been decided in the minds of the people and the legalese has no bearing on their perceptions.
The Pakistan Day Resolution of 1940 reminds us forcefully to look at what we were supposed to be and where we got to. We should have been role models in this century, which is also being referred to as ‘An Asian Century’ with the rise of China and the shifts in global power. While some among our entrepreneurs, civil rights activists, media and writers can be called achievers and contributors to the cause of progressive Pakistan, it is the bulk of power elite who remain out of touch and unmoved by the aspirations of the people of the country. Democracy as being practiced in South Asia is meaningless, unless also accompanied by economic empowerment. (The argument of piri mureedi and gaddi-nasheeni in defence of the Prime Minister is a case in point.) If economic empowerment and knowledge-based enlightenment is not provided to the majority, then democracy only helps in benefitting the few people at the top.
The ever widening gulf between the haves and have-nots needs to be addressed. Although, this being the year that will be a run up to the elections, there is every possibility that the government will try and woo voters with some people-friendly projects, but it will be too little too late! We have years and years of promises made by different governments that have not matched deliveries, which a few months can do nothing to reverse - as opposed to good consistent deliveries from spin bowlers that turn a limited-overs cricket match around in less than an hour!
What the majority across-the-board, however, is agreed to is that an independent judiciary and rule of law are integral to democracy. The recent indication of the Supreme Court to the intelligence agencies of being unaccountable and a law unto themselves is a first of its kind admonishment and a warning that meddling henceforth in the internal affairs of the country must be given up by them. All of our 64 years make for an excellent case study of how not to run a country or why not to accept leaders without long-term vision.
Postscript: Islamabad will be getting a new airport in 2014, which is located 30 kilometres to the southwest of the city. The groundbreaking ceremony was done in 2007 and it is now in the final stages of construction. It is the first ‘greenfield’ airport development, since partition and has been built to handle 6.5 million passengers a year and 80,000 metric tons of cargo. It is a much needed facility because the existing airport is far too cramped to handle all the requirements and is located in a very congested and heavily populated area. There are detractors of the new airport suggesting that it might become a white elephant and that is located too far out from Islamabad. There were detractors of the Motorway too, when it was being built for the very same reasons, but time proved that it was a good thing. All the required facilities like public transport and link roads will be a natural happening once the airport is operational. The airport is the very first face of a country that one encounters upon arrival and it is imperative that we present a good one, albeit as good as the beautiful capital of the country deserves. There are countless other expenses, which we can criticise, but I think it is unfair to do the same for the much needed international airport for Islamabad.
The writer is a public relations and event management professional based in Islamabad.