The last-ball result of the Pakistan-India T-20 World Cup match as usual created a sense of self-blame and undue criticism of our otherwise brilliant team. It was obvious that Pakistan was on the verge of victory with India losing a wicket on the first ball of the last over with 16 runs required, but a disputed no-ball by the field umpires without referring to the third umpire and the Indian batter subsequently getting clean bowled on a free hit as a penalty for no ball and yet making three runs on the dead ball despite protests by the Pakistani team skipper was what made the opponents win the nail-biting match.
Winning and losing is part of the game even if it was due to two wrong decisions by the umpires, yet the so-called experts on most of the TV channels and self-acclaimed petty experts continued to find faults with their team rather than discussing the existing cricket rules and the two disputed decisions by the field umpires and the third umpire staying muted and no formal protest was launched by the PCB or the team management after the match. The Indian hold on the ICC as the paymasters to all concerned with the cricket world forces them to stay muted. The point under discussion in this piece, therefore, is to examine the phenomenon of taking an injustice or a loss in any field including sports as a stigma rather than adopting a rational behaviour. Since sports victories elevate national morale and the India-Pakistan cricket duel is always more of a mania; therefore, ineptitude, indifference, and wrong post-mortem views by the Pakistani commentators, even with the advantage of hindsight instead of a timely right response, have become a national tradition. It reflects a defeated mentality and pessimism becoming an unfortunate national trait. The individual or collective conduct is not much different from any political, administrative, or daily street bad behaviour and unfairness.
When self-blame becomes an individual or a collective convention, the stigmatised person or community becomes laden with intense disabling feelings of anguish, shame, dejection, self-doubt, guilt, and inferiority. What causes self-blame and self-pity? The action of accusing oneself, stemming from feelings of guilt, may have its roots in social background, weak upbringing, poor education, the suppressive atmosphere in society, the prevalence of injustice, and fear of despotism. When we are self-blaming, it is often because we were conditioned from an early age to take on responsibility and ownership for things that weren’t ours to carry. We might have been part of a family whose dysfunction we absorbed and took on as our own and reflects symptoms of depression. Self-blame is the attribution that the consequences one experiences are a direct result of one’s actions or character. In the context of behavioural medicine, this may be either beneficial or harmful depending on if it leads to positive behaviour change or increased negative affectivity and lack of behaviour change. We see this public behaviour of self-blame in print and electronic media and predominantly on social media in Pakistan.
The inability to call spade a spade and stand against tyranny and injustice is self-destructive for a society and a country. Our religion Islam teaches us, “Amr Bil Ma’roof wa Nahi ‘anil Munkar” (to enjoin what is good and approved, and forbid what is evil and disapproved). Sadly, contrary to the Quranic injunction, the public at large in Pakistan has gotten accustomed to acceptance of all ills, evils, and injustices giving more strength to coercion in the society. The treatment meted out to people at the police stations, lower courts/Kachehry, windows of any public/government offices, and on the roads and streets by the guns touting mafia is bound to continue as long as the public is not assured of free and immediate availability and application of law and justice. As long as fear of law and justice is missing, the bravest analysts and commentators in our society tend to speak out after exhausting all perks and privileges and when there is no fear of a backlash. Most, unfortunately, self-sacrifice and uprightness are almost extinct in Pakistani society making the country fall more and more into an abyss of despair. The so-created hopelessness and nihilism are reflected in the behaviour of almost all Pakistani politicians, bureaucrats, sportsmen, journalists, and even the majority of common citizens both at home and abroad, which is a sorry state of our moral standards.
The natural reflex response by most of the readers upon touching such unchartered subjects is always who will bell the cat and what will bring around a semblance of a normal society in Pakistan confronted with a range of issues. Neither a short answer can suffice in a brief highlight of this particular disparaging societal virus nor anything less than a wholesome national debate can be expected to find a permanent solution to overcome this menace. The feelings of self-respect, national pride, and uprightness cannot be imbued overnight. The expedition to a distant destination starts with a small step, and each one of us is free to take that step brushing aside the risks involved. Long live Pakistan!