Pakistan-India semifinal: A cricket match, for God’s sake! – by Ali Raja

In Punjabi we have a jolly good legend by the title “Satan’s Finger.”

It narrates the story of a pious old fellow who had a habit of cursing the Satan after every prayer that he offered. He continued this routine five times a day, seven day a week and for years and years after which the reaction came. One day as he left the mosque he encountered a strange creature with black face, stretched nose, tiny horns and a long tail. By virtue of his outlook the gentleman concluded that this is the fellow he has been cursing so long. Immediately he took off his shoe and ran towards the enemy of humanity. The Satan instead of countering the man very politely asked “Is there a prevailing issue between us which requires a settlement.” Surprised by the humble tone of Satan the old man abandoned the idea of utilization of his shoe and proceeded verbally. He declared Satan the cause of each and every trouble, unrest and tragedy on mother earth and advised him to mend himself up or be ready to face strength of his shoe. The Satan replied very decently “Dear Sir It is a mere allegation that I am the reason for what evils reside upon this earth. I only poke my finger and the rest is accomplished by you and your fellow brothers.” The old man did not understand this ambiguous answer and demanded for a clarity. The Satan for the sake of practical demonstration moved to the nearby sweet meats stall where the healthy and charming “Halwai” was busy carving “Jalebis.” Satan dipped his finger in the “Sheera” and whipped it over the wall. The Halwai told his son to clean it off who decided to do it after his chores. Instantaneously a fly came a sat over the the mark, it was followed by a lizard who ate up the fly with it’s sticky tongue. A cat standing nearby jumped upon the wall in an attempt to catch the lizard. In this attempt the cat fell in the nearly placed pan of milk. Upon watching his milk go ruin the Halwai leaped towards the cat and managed to get hold of it. With the cat in his grip he started beating the it with fiercely. The cat unfortunately was a pet of the adjacent Kasai who came out and exchanged hot words with the Halwai. The both fell out in a quarrel and the Kasai stabbed the Halwai with his knife. All the Halwais of the city came out to demonstrate their might and consequently all the Kasais also took to roads. Civil war broke out and a curfew was imposed. The Satan passed a smile to the old man and vanished away in the dark.

The reason for narrating this lengthy legend is that another finger has recently poked the sub-continent. This time the finger is well disguised, beautifully wrapped and dipped and super sweet “Sheera.” The Sheera of cricket. ICC World Cup 2011 is into its final show down. An absolutely delightful event which has come about with a lot full of surprises. With the all times best Aussies getting knocked out, with the fathers of cricket England loosing to the associates and winning against the mights, with unpredictable victories and predicted ties this world cup was better than one can even dream of and before it ends it has brought about the contest of the decade.

Pakistan and India the arch rivals facing each other in the Semi-Final of the ICC World Cup 2011. A match lot better than the FIFA final, an entertainment lot better than the OSCAR final and a competition lot better than the ASHES final. In short a cricket match full of entertainment, energy and enthusiasm is coming come. A cricket match like never before is coming up.

This point is beyond domain of debate that the standing of this match is at the peak of the sky but hail our crusaders of the right, crusaders in the electronic, print and e-media that their ambitions lie even beyond the skies. For this is the reason they have turned this full of entertainment cricket match into a clash of civilizations. 24/7 the Television channels are running marathons revolving around this match, news bulletins are semi-final centric and newspaper headlines are cricket oriented.

The media has turned the cricket fever into a cricket tuberculosis. An already steaming curry has been ruined by the spices which are being poured. Nearly each and every television channel has decided to participate in the run for cheap ratings. A cricket match, a healthy entertainment and an exciting contest has been turned into A WAR OF NATIONS, A WAR OF HONOUR and most pathetically a WAR OF RELIGIONS.

A stupid figure of 11 had been circulating around in the SMS world for the last 3 or 4 months but some genius sitting in corridors of transmission thought may be some of the Pakistanis have not been lucky enough to have benefited from this magnificent arithmetical astrology. According to these mathematical geniuses Pakistan won it’s independence in 1947 with 4 and 7 adding up to 11, Pakistan teared the Indian army apart in 1965 with 6 and 5 adding up to 11 and this time the world cup 2011 will be the moment when the Pakistani Team will shatter the Indian castle. Arithmetically I don’t understand if 6 and 5 add up to 11, 4 and 7 add up to 11 then how come 1 and 1 don’t add up to 2? Ahhh leaving the sick calculation apart it is worth mentioning that Cricket is a game, a game and only a game. It is a platform where skills of a certain art are exhibited.

These skills are not bound to nationalities, geographies or ideologies. These skills are combined assets of the cricketing world. An exhibition of this mutual heritage is the English County System or the Indian Premier League. Where players from across the globe not only stand by each other but put in their all to achieve a success for the team which hardly has two of the same nationality. Cricket is the opposite of what happened in 1965 or 1971 or ever more. Cricket is bridge and it must be left so.

The honour brigade after having been ashamed in the Raymond Davis Saga has now decided to perform it’s mujra on the podium  of cricket and the honour of two nations has been made the center of focus. Each and every television channel is trying to surpass the other in this honour transmission. Sentiments of nation are purpousley being poked by the political actors. A cricket match is being portrayed as the battle of prestige by prestige less people. A simple question of continuity arises as if this jig-jaw of game and prestige continues to be so even in the future. Will the national games and the provincial games also become a subject to this theory.

Will Punjab vs Balochistan also become a battle of Punjabi and Baloch honour? Will a gate once opened find closure thereafter? Instead of being preemptive about the future let us extract some lessons from the past. It was the year 1970 and  El Salvador and Honduras were facing each other in the qualifying round for the FIFA world cup.

Some super-intelligent analysts and commentators on both sides used their skills of igniting honour and prestige. to the utmost of their extent. What happened to the match is rarely quoted upon the pages of history but what came out of it surely does stand as a statue of embarrassment for both nations. A four day war broke out between the two states, a war which killed 3000 soldiers and civilians, a war which brought about 22 year suspension of the Central American Common Market and a war known as FOOTBALL WAR. In case this the objective some intend to achieve they are welcome to accelerate honour but in case sanity still resides in the brains one must also peep into the portions of history when Nigerian Civil War was halted for 48 hours in order to watch the football match in Lagos starring the legendary Pele.

Most unfortunately the Semi Final of ICC World Cup 2011 has been transformed into a war of religions. One cannot grab the collars of the SMS brigade who are spreading messages which call for the Khatam of Ayat e Kareema in rivalry of Bhojans being sung in the mandirs but one must definitely bring to accountability the crusaders sitting in the media. People with ambiguous and suspicious characters themselves have made a cricket match a crusade of beliefs. In case these people are so over saturated with religious sentiments that religion falls in by default in every matter brought before them one must ask the SHARAI standing of cricket itself. Ashraf Ali Thanvi from the sect of Deoband, Imam Ahmed Raza Khan Barelvi from the sect of Barelvi and Maulana Ishaq Younus from the sect of Ahl e Hadith have issued separate fatwas regarding cricket and for different reasons with each have termed cricket Haram as per Islamic perspective.

So in case cricket is Haram how come praying and begging before Allah Almighty for a Haram can be termed as Hallal in Islam? Cricket is nothing beyond exhibition of human skills related to certain art and appreciation and exhibition of art has nothing to do with the religion even in the farthest terms. Rehmat al Lellalameen Hazrat Muhmmmad (S.A.W.) on the occasion of the battle of Baddar asked the non Muslim Prisoners of War to teach the Muslim children. In this way Rasool Allah (S.A.W.) not only accepted the skills of the non Muslims but set a precedent that such matters of world affairs are not associated with the religious sentiments. Had Rasool Allah (S.A.W) been a preacher of the honour brigade theory he would have instructed the Muslim children to counter the non Muslims instead of benefiting from them. When Rasool Allah (S.A.W) did not make matters of world a point of clash of religions how can the ones with tarnished souls be the preachers of religious might?

Cricket no doubt has developed itself into the game of the new millennium and is most possibly the only game which shall be able to stand side by side or even ahead of soccer in late if not near future and within the rows of cricket Asia doubtlessly shall stand as the leader of the ring. Cricket has successfully proved it’s claim of being the entertainment one can dream off.

Pakistan and India have got the opportunity of being a part of this entertainment saturated cyclone. India a country with the world’s 1/3 rd poor, a country with 41% of it’s residents living bellow the poverty line and a country with 456 million children being underfed is about to face Pakistan a country with 38% of malnourished children, a country with 3.2 million people compelled to drink water from animal source and a country with 20 million people living upon the streets. The nerves of the poor nation that resides in the sub-continent are already stretched to the maximum. In case one can not play a part in relaxing them at least one must be human to the extent that he does not stretches them further.

Let an entertainment packed match be an entertainment packed match rather than being a brain  haemorrhage package.

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