Push-ups and swag won’t impress us Sardar Muhammad Bux Khan Mahar
After sitting on the throne for more than eight years as the Chief Minister of Sindh, Mr Qaim Ali Shah was finally dethroned and is now replaced by Murad Ali Shah. The new chief minister tried to inject some urgency in the Sindh government with his actions. In my view, Mr Shah has taken a step in the right direction – more than half of the current government’s term has already gone by, and Sindh has only witnessed a further deterioration in various fields such as health, sports, education and waste disposal.
The newly inducted chief minister also expanded his cabinet by recruiting new ministers and special assistants. Our superiors do not understand that the quality of an individual is more important than the quantity of people. Problems cannot be solved by increasing the number of people, but they can be solved by appointing the right quality of personnel who are capable of tackling their respective jobs.
Recently, Murad Ali Shah appointed Sardar Muhammad Bux Khan Mahar as the new sports minister. At the age of 28, he is currently the youngest minister of the Sindh cabinet. Muhammad Bux belongs to the Mahar clan of Sindh. The Mahars (since joining politics) have switched loyalties on numerous occasions, as they always want to be part of the ruling party. The last time the Mahars shifted their loyalty was in 2012, when the clan ditched Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) and joined Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) instead.
Muhammad Bux Mahar’s appointment, in my opinion, is not based on merit. Rather, the current Sindh government seems to be rewarding the family for their support.
The new sports minister proudly introduced himself as a landlord. There is a sense of arrogance and a false sense of superiority about him, evident through his social media accounts. While going through his pictures, one can tell he loves his sports cars and hats more than anything else.
Immediately after his induction, Muhammad Bux Mahar attempted the push-up challenge in the provincial cabinet, and also challenged the Punjab sports minister via a video message. He challenged him to beat his record of 50 push-ups in 40 seconds. After having watched his video carefully, I realised his technique was incorrect. If he would have performed those push-ups in a contest, he would have surely been disqualified.
Push-ups have become quite popular in Pakistan, only because a few players in our cricket team performed push-ups during the recently concluded Test series in England. I believe it was justified for our cricketers, since they achieved great milestones.
Muhammad Bux Mahar challenged the Punjab government because their performance is currently unparalleled and every province wants to emulate their success.
Social media went into frenzy and began broadcasting all the updates regarding the push-up challenge between the respective governments. The media focused all its attention on this frivolous challenge, and without realising, side lined actual news. This topic of discussion wasted hours, if not days, of precious news time. In the process, social platforms missed some important and positive activities taking place around the country.
A few ministers from the Punjab and federal government resorted to ridicule against Mahar. But, for once, I agree with the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Talal Chaudhry’s statement. He said elected representatives should not indulge in personal challenges, and instead, should be promoting healthy public competition.
I request the young sports minister to listen to Talal Chaudhry’s advice and sincerely work towards the improvement of sports in Sindh.
Instead of testing other provincial ministers and making tall claims about fighting for the rights of sportsmen, Muhammad Bux Mahar should hand in a detailed roadmap of his plans in order to bring about a much needed improvement in Sindh’s sporting culture. Mahar has been a member of the provincial assembly for three years, and if he thinks he is capable of making a positive difference in the province, he should have started fighting for a change in the government long before his appointment.
Mahar is a member of the Sindh provincial assembly’s Standing Committee on Higher Technical Education and Research, School Education (up to Matriculation) and Special Education. Unfortunately, as a member of this committee, he has yet to bring about any concrete change in Sindh’s education.
He should realise that a sports minister does not necessarily have to be good at sports, however, he should be a good strategist and a visionary.
Sports in Sindh are in a deplorable condition. Grounds and playing facilities are rapidly diminishing. Some grounds have been turned into dumping grounds for garbage, while others are taken over by construction mafias. To improve the sports environment in Sindh, the new minister will have to come out of his comfort zone and visit every part of the province and tackle the issue head on.
Lyari is a stronghold of PPP and we, the people of Sindh, will be elated if Mahar can revive sporting facilities in that area. Lyari gave Pakistan a medallist in the form of Hussain Shah who won a bronze medal in the 88 Olympics in Seoul. This was the last time a Pakistani won an Olympic medal in an individual sport.
Due to the politics prevalent in our sports, instead of getting Hussain Shah to train new boxers for this country, we forced him to leave. And now, the only person who could have improved and trained our youth at Olympic standards is now training and nurturing boxers in Tokyo.
The minister should also realise that sports activities need to go beyond Karachi and Hyderabad. In 69 years of Pakistani history, only one city in Sindh, other than Karachi, has given Pakistan a world class player in international cricket and that is Hyderabad.
The minister will have to make an effort and work deep into Sindh, preferably all the way down to Ghotki, the place where he was elected.
It is unfortunate that our best option for a sports minister is a landlord. These landlords possess a certain mentality, one that goes against the common man, as they have a low tolerance level against anyone opposing their ideas.
I have serious doubts about Muhammad Bux Mahar’s earnestness regarding the betterment of Sindh’s sportsmen. If he is serious, he should work out a strategy, develop a plan and try to give Pakistan’s cricket, hockey and football teams at least one substantial player from interior Sindh.
I am sure the buzz surrounding Muhammad Bux Mahar’s push-up challenge will die down in a few days, and the sporting scene of Sindh will worsen over time. To be honest, I have no hope in him and feel no positive action will be taken on his behalf.
Those who sport temporary loyalties and switch sides not based on principles, but based on who will help prolong their rule, can’t be trusted with much responsibility.
All photos: Facebook
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.