M Omar Iftikhar
DURING the first edition of the PSL 2016, cricket aficionados and analysts opined that PSL matches can place in Pakistan but it felt a distant dream. A year later in March 2017, Lahore was abuzz with cricket fever when international players including Peshawar Zalmi’s Dawid Malan, Marlon Samuels, Darren Sammy, Chris Jordan and Quetta Gladiator’s Morne van Wyk, Anamul Haque, Sean Ervine, and Rayad Emrit arrived in Lahore for the big game.
Now that the PSL 2017 has concluded, the PCB and the government must look at the preparations of PSL 2017’s final as a case study to devise a strategy to make international cricket flourish in Pakistan akin to how it was being played during the 1990s and in the early parts of 2000. Lahore hosting the final match of PSL 2017 did change perceptions about Pakistan in the international community. Considered a terrorist’s hideout by many – and for its joint borders with Afghanistan – Pakistan still has to come out of its many social and economic predicaments. Countering terrorism is first task that will ensure a smooth recovery of Pakistan’s social and economic sectors.
Considering the magnitude of cricket lovers making their way to the Gaddafi Stadium, there would have been – subconscious thoughts – of an unfortunate and an unforeseen incident to take place disrupting people from celebrating good times and jeopardizing the final match. However, we must applaud the courage of the people of Lahore for they set aside all fears and doubts, took the terrorism factor out from their thoughts and enjoyed cricket. The preparations of the government and that of the security apparatus must also be applauded. Moreover, organizing the 2017 PSL final is a promise that international cricket teams will also visit and play in Karachi, Hyderabad, Peshawar and in other cities of Pakistan.
The government, however, must channel this fervor and passion for formulating plans and tactics for adding vigor in all sectors of Pakistan. Although the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) will be a game changer for Pakistan, Islamabad must ensure taking corrective and constructive steps for the development of Pakistan’s socio-economic sectors on its own.
The government, therefore, must display the same desire, longing and yearning it showed to hold the PSL’s final in other pursuits. These include among many the need to eradicate illiteracy from the country, to eliminate corruption from its system, to promote education in all provinces, to reduce brain drain, to promote tourism, to develop infrastructure, to increase exports, to provide medicine and medical facilities to the common man especially in deprived areas, to control inflation, to ensure security and peace in the country and to maintain law and order at all times. These steps and much more still on paper and in the minds of the leaders, bureaucrats, policy makers, and influential decision-makers will become a reality when they act as a collective unit to put a halt on corruption and when they hold every person indulged in immoral and indecent acts accountable for their actions.
If our government can create wonders in sports, they certainly can take Pakistan ahead in every sector. The 2017 PSL final was one major step towards creating avenues for a better and brighter Pakistan. On this day, two teams entered the Gaddafi Stadium; however, Pakistan won!
— The writer is a freelance columnist based in Karachi.