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Unfair Competition

March 28, 2011

The build up to the Wednesday cricket  match between India and Pakistan has reached a crescendo. There is only one thing that is hogging the media both in India and in Pakistan, the semi-final match between the two South Asian rivals. The who’s who of the two countries will witness the match. Apart from the Prime Ministers of the two nations, Sonia Gandhi, Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi will be there to watch the match. Mukesh Ambani has spent a whopping Rs 5 crores for two VIP boxes at the venue. Tickets are being sold in the black market at 100 times their price.

There is much speculation as to who will win the match. Going from the record one can say that India is the favorite and rightly so. Pakistan has never beaten India in a world cup encounter. For that matter Pakistan has not beaten India in any major competition in any sport including cricket and hockey in the recent past. The question is – why? Is it not true that in the early 80’s Pakistan used to regularly beat India both at cricket and in hockey. Can we forget the drubbing we got against Pakistan at the 1982 Asian Games? Can we forget the way Pakistan played cricket during the times of Zaheer Abbas,  Imran Khan and Javed Miandad? Since early nineties Pakistan has gone down badly. But it is against India that they have performed particularly miserably. The question that I again ask is – why, why such dip against one nation – India?

Pakistan Cricket Team

The answer is also evident, for all to see if one has the gumption to accept the truth. You see, players are a part of the society. They are not living in a bubble or in isolation. They see and react to the developments around them. They come to India and see the difference between their own nation and the nation they are playing against. It was in mid nineties that Taliban was formed and it was at that time that Pakistan adopted aggressively terrorism as a state policy. There is much vitriolic that is dished out against India and Indians – a nation of kafirs and the heathen that is supposedly at odds with Pakistan at all times. There is a caricature that is depicted in the media and among the awam of Pakistan about Hindus and Indians in general. When the players come to India and experience undiluted love and affection from Indians they are flummoxed and awed. They do not know how to react. What they experience is directly in contrast with what they had been told and what they had heard. They experience a kind of shock – as it were.

Then the Pakistan players and the officials also know that their country is exporting terror on these people who are such lovely hosts full of warmth and affection. This unrelenting terror attacks against India and Indians make the Pakistan players and officials develop a feeling of guilt. This guilt complex has enveloped these players and officials who cannot condone what their administration is doing against a benign people.  This sense of guilt translates on the field and they find that they cannot perform to their potential. It is like they are chained with a burden of the love of a billion plus people who have nothing but love and affection to offer. They find themselves constrained and unable to concentrate on the job at hand. It must be remembered that ever since Pakistan started exporting terror in a big way to India, Pakistan has consistently underperformed against India. Since 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks Pakistan has not won a single game against India.

The dualism is that while most Pakistanis are basically nice individuals they find that their own persona is not translated into what their government and the administration is doing in Islamabad. These boys are nice, sensitive individuals who have as much feelings as anyone else. They see the Indian people and the Indian team and find that there is hardly any difference between the two nations and the two peoples. It is the same language, the same food habits same culture and same kind of society. Yet they find that India has progressed so much while their own nation has lagged behind badly. That also saps their confidence. The situation in Pakistan is so bad that no country is ready to play in Pakistan. Pakistan’s home series are played in Dubai and Sharjah. Their economic condition is also going from bad to worse.  That works on their minds too.

Are these Pakistani boys any less talented than India? They are without doubt perhaps the most talented team in the tournament. But the dualism of reality on the ground and what they are told back home is such that they find they invariably fail to perform up to their potential. These boys are humans too and they find it difficult to carry the burden of guilt and hatred against a people and a nation that has nothing but love and affection to offer –  besides being so much like themselves. Just because someone has a different way of calling out to God cannot be reason enough to hate a people and a nation so. This is the 21st century and people have this insatiable urge to ask questions and the questions that these boys keep asking themselves consciously or unconsciously disturb them. Add to that the stupid comment from Interior Minister Rehman Malick that he will see to it that the match is not fixed only add to the burden that these players carry.

The kind of conflict and the burden of conscience under which the Pakistan team plays it indeed is remarkable that they have reached the semi-finals of the world cup, as Intikhab Alam quipped. But playing against other teams and playing against India are two different ball games. Against India the question of guilt plays a big role. Compared to what Pakistan team has to contend with the ‘pressure’ on the Indian team is nothing at all. Yes, there are expectations but India and Indians know we have not done anything wrong or something terribly bad against anyone. They are not carrying a burden that they cannot contend with. My take is that this Pakistan-India encounter is unfair. This is absolutely unfair on a bunch of boys from across the border who are expected to perform under surreal pressure and moral trepidation. Were Pakistan to dismantle the terror infrastructure and stop all acts of terror against India as well as put their house in order, then an India-Pakistan match will be worth watching. Then my money will invariably be on Pakistan, and I know these boys will never let their country and those who follow them closely, down. The most talented team should generally win, right? They still might, but one can only imagine what a Herculean task they would have achieved if they manage to beat India on Wednesday.

Update: As I write this India has again won against Pakistan by 29 runs. This is not to say ‘I told you so’ but the fact is that Pakistan team was short on concentration. They dropped at least six catches. While batting too they seemed lacking in that extra something that one needs. They seemed a bit disjointed and not quite there. There needs to be some fundamental change and that comes from the environment around them back home. I am not trying to be pompous but Pakistan needs to put their house in order big time and change their priorities.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. April 2, 2011 4:07 pm

    Well, the mourning in Pak, seems more of an outcome of hatred towards India, rather than love for Pak. As in Pak, one’s patriotism is measured by his hatred towards Hindus, and India, rather than his love for Pak. This unfortunate fact is responsible for the current mess in Pak.


    • sharma24 permalink*
      April 2, 2011 9:49 pm

      I guess that is part of the problem, but not the only reason for the mess that is Pakistan.

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