There is no doubt that the Pakistan army has restored peace across the country by crushing militant organizations, which were posing a great threat to the country. The so-called war on terrorism claimed over 70,000 Pakistani lives. Pakistan has also faced around $1 trillion financial losses. In spite of the great existential threats, the country emerged victorious.
The state has taken many drastic steps to prove that Pakistan is a safe country. The PSL was held. South Africa, Sri Lanka, the West Indies, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe’s cricket teams came and played cricket in Pakistan. Many US and European soldiers, staff members and citizens were moved to Pakistan from Afghanistan before August 31. The PIA was used to evacuate thousands of people stranded at Kabul airport. The world, including the US, appreciated Pakistan’s efforts.
However, the New Zealand cricket team pulled out of a tour to Pakistan over security concerns on September 17. New Zealand officials have not given details of the security threat that forced them to cancel the tour. Later, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) also cancelled a white-ball tour for their men’s and women’s teams.
The two shocking incidents have disappointed millions of Pakistanis. Pakistan Cricket Board Chairman Ramiz Raja said: “It’s the feeling of being used and then binned. That’s the feeling I have right now. A little bit of hand-holding, a little bit of caring was needed after the New Zealand pullout and we didn’t get that from England which is so frustrating. We’ve been going out of our way to meet the international demands, being such a responsible member of the cricketing fraternity, and in return we get a response from the ECB saying the players were spooked by New Zealand’s withdrawal. What does that mean?
“You are quoting fatigue and mental tension and the players being spooked and an hour-and-a-half flight from here before a World Cup they are quite happy to be caged in a bubble environment and carry on with the tournament. One feels slighted, one feels humiliated because the withdrawal doesn’t have an answer,” he added.
Former English players and journalists have also criticised the ECB’s decision. “English cricket, the governing body and players, had a chance to do the right thing. They had a chance to repay a debt, uphold their honour and side with a cricketing nation that has undergone the kind of challenges others cannot even begin to contemplate. Instead, citing a mealy-mouthed statement, they did the wrong thing,” former England Test captain Michael Atherton wrote in The Times. Ex-England skipper Michael Vaughan said England’s withdrawal was “completely understandable in light of the security issues” but questioned why the matches could not be played in a neutral venue instead. “Let’s hope things can change and teams can tour Pakistan shortly,” he commented.
It should be noted that last year, Pakistan travelled to England during Covid-19 for a three-match Test and T20 series which saved the ECB millions in television rights deals. British journalist Peter Oborne said: “Pakistanis are the most genuine people you will ever meet. We felt completely safe. Pakistan has been maligned. The England decision is so upsetting”.
Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry asserted that the device used to send a threat to the New Zealand cricket team belonged to India. Addressing a press conference in Islamabad alongside Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, the minister said it had started due to a fake post by someone claiming to be Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militant Ehsanullah Ehsan. “This whole threat was primarily generated from India. This is unfortunate. We believe this is a campaign against international cricket. The International Cricket Council (ICC) and other bodies must take notice of it,” he said.
This is an alarming situation because the Modi government is already hatching conspiracies against Pakistan. The EU DisinfoLab’s revelations have already exposed the true face and evil designs of India. This is another evil attempt by India to damage Pakistan. The state should try its level best to foil such Indian conspiracies.
Pakistan cricket has again suffered a severe setback by these incidents. After New Zealand and England, Australia will also refuse to play in Pakistan. A new game has started to isolate Pakistan.
Political analyst Humayun Gauhar writes: “Cricket’s biggest disaster has been that it is used as a tool in the hands of politicians who know only how to destroy and disrupt. It is now a game played by knaves. Just New Zealand and England – of course egged on by India – have turned cricket into a game of knaves and rascals. Going back to the American and Western strategy concocted by the American Enterprise Institute to finish off what they call political Islam, which the British started when they ended the Ottoman Caliphate. Now, after their shameful defeat in Afghanistan, they have trained their guns on Pakistan. Their guns are already on Iran and Turkey. They’re going to go from belittling every country creating all kinds of false impressions about them to, if necessary, all out war”.
The PCB should approach the ICC for exposing the bad intentions of the big three, which want to destroy Pakistan’s cricket. The only way to bring back cricket to the country is to win the coming T20 World Cup.