WITH God’s grace and the will of its people, Pakistan came out with flying colours at the Gaddafi Stadium showdown against the not-so-veiled enemy whose ghosts experienced a defeat reminiscent only of its misadventure in 1965, the only difference being that it had then resorted to conventional warfare, whereas this time its cowardice has forced it into covert attacks and sabotage through mercenaries and its disinformation campaigns around world hedging behind Imperial implant of terrorism in this hemisphere.
More than fifty two years ago, the chicken-hearted Indian Army in the small hours of the night between 5th and 6th of September had ventured to cross the Wahga Border in an undeclared war in the hope of wining and dining at the Lahore Gymkhana, only to see it disgracefully repulsed by the hitherto untested Pakistan Armed Forces and its baton-wielding mad people rushing towards the borders in frenzy, and backing its Forces with voluntary rations and clapping in the open at the dog-fights over Lahore skies as if enjoying a kite-flying match.
On the 5th of March this year the arena was the same Lahore staging the finals of Pakistan Super League (PSL) Season-2 at the Gaddafi Stadium amid the fresh wave of terrorism engineered by India from its sanctuaries for mercenaries facilitated by Afghanistan’s NDS in much the same manner as it targeted the visiting Sri Lankan cricket team when it refused to call off its tour under pressure from the Indians under the conjured threat of terrorism. The only difference being that this time they were joined by Tehreek Taliban Pakistan operating under its wings and new implant Daesh as Lahore had been targeted days before the holding of Finals for which the Provincial metropolis had been named by the Pakistan Cricket Board at the start of the season. Pakistan this time was ready to stand up to the threat to carry out its declared intent. It did just that by reviving the spirit of 1965 and paying homage to their martyrs in a unique manner at the closing ceremony.
While detractors also within the country tried to plant apprehensions, the Government of Pakistan reassured by its Armed Forces and the Provincial Government backed PSL Chairman Sethi’s initiative and persuasion ratified the decision refusing to be cowed down by the coward enemy threat, which was hailed across the country. It was the people of Pakistan who made it into a memorable event with their enthusiasm by thronging the Stadium from all corners of the Country and those unable to get in, rejoicing in their respective home towns in front of wide screens and social gatherings.
The Organizers arranged a colourful closing Ceremony with pop stars prior to the match preceded by a dazzling display of free fall landings by crack para-troopers of the Armed Forces as a symbol of National determination amid deafening chants of Pakistan Zindabad across the Stadium. But it was the Foreign cricketers from West Indies, South Africa, England, Zimbabwe and Bangladesh who stole the limelight with the legendary all-time great Sir Vivian Richards the Coach and mentor for Quetta Gladiators and Daren Sammy the popular brand Ambassador for cricket Captaining Peshawar Zalmi besides Morvin Samuels, Rayad Emrit, Chris Jordon, David Malan, Sean Ervine, Morne Van Wykand Inamulhaq making the finalist squads.
Barring untimely apprehensions expressed by Asif Ali Zardari and Imran Khan who looked to make political capital in opposing the wisdom of holding the event just in case some untoward incident took place, besides some ex-cricketers and media outlets which are ever ready to paint a dooms day scenario, the overwhelming majority of TV outlets but most importantly the people of Pakistan came out with a win-win outlook, and the Almighty helped the Nation to come out flying. One had thought that Imran had realized when he followed his reservations with good wishes, but spoiled the broth with his irresponsible and derogatory remarks about participating foreign players; a personal psychological ailment which will further bring down his support. It was nonetheless a rare occasion to see backing of the event by all political forces joining the crowd including JI Ameer Sirajul Haq and the ever exuberant Sheikh Rasheed besides the Punjab Chief Minister and other civil and military luminaries witnessing the match.
What somewhat dampened the euphoria was a one-sided contest resulting from the absence of a few in-form foreign members of Quetta Gladiators which prevented a close contest and presented Peshawar Zalmi with a virtual walk-over, besides the fact that a true batting track should have been ensured by the organizers to offer a run feast to the spectators in a T20 game. Also amiss was Najam Sethi’s success at persuading some key foreign players’ to come to Pakistan in contrast to the Zalmi squad about which Daren Sammy credited Shahid Afridi’s determined role to make him come to Pakistan. The other factor which Pakistani officials and media missed out on was to capitalize as they did on Daren Sammy, was the presence of the cricketing legend Vivian Richards who ought to have been given special media attention with an interview and a tribute paid to him besides all the foreign players who reposed confidence in Pakistan as true Ambassadors of the game. One also wonders why visiting ICC officials and their Security teams went unregistered. The Ambassador of Ambassadors Giles Clark ICC Task Force Chief who has already transmitted positive vibes with regard to revival of International Cricket in Pakistan during his earlier visit, and who after successful staging of PSL Final indicated sending a World Eleven to play four T20 games in Pakistan most certainly should have been interviewed.
Notwithstanding the above, the event was a message of unity and determination reminding the enemies of Pakistan that despite some chinks in its armour, it was a Nation undeterred by any threats and overt or covert machinations of its detractors and refuses to lower its Guard. It was at the same time a Nation which sought reciprocation in promoting the principles of freedom, peace, equality and co-existence for the common good of mankind and non-interference in the affairs of other Nations; a message it sends across the globe. In the context of the threat of terrorism and enemy designs, Pakistan with this moral victory has set up a bench mark of unity among its rank and file, and behind its defenders as a Nation determined to fight on till elimination of the curse and redouble its vigil to completely frustrate the enemies of the great homeland.
—The writer is a media professional, member of Pioneering team of PTV and a veteran ex Director Programmes.