Forget cricket, Amir Sohail enters politics

Published: August 19, 2011

PHOTO: SANA

Politics has become a lucrative career option for have-been celebrities and sportsmen globally, and the trend seems to have caught on in the subcontinent.

As far as I can remember,  the legendary and debonair Imran Khan was the first prominent Pakistani cricketer to jump on to the politics bandwagon, with Muhammed Azharuddin and Navjot Singh Sidhu following suit across the border in India. While Khan started Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Azharuddin and Sidhu decided to join India’s top two mainstream and opposition parties, Congress and BJP respectively as Lok Sabha legislators.

In Pakistan, another debonair cricketer to make a transition into politics was former pacer, and self-proclaimed ‘reverse swing guru’ Sarfraz Nawaz. Nawaz also claims to have taught Imran Khan the technique of reverse swing, explaining why he never ‘joined forces’ with him in PTI, and instead joined PPP. Initially he had joined the MQM, which makes perfect sense, since the party’s extremely hostile relations with PTI are well known.

Do spare my ignorance on sportsmen from other sports joining the Pakistani political scene, since cricket rules in Pakistan and even the sport of choice for political parties.

Yesterday, August 18th 2011, when I arrived at work I expected to be hounded by Karachi violence stories, when I learnt that the not so dashing and debonair Amir Sohail joined the PML-N.

In retrospect, this shouldn’t come as a surprise – it is usually the rebellious cricket legends that end up joining politics. This is because, once they retire, they have typically had a rather ‘volatile’ relationship with the PCB (Imran Khan being an exception). They are thus presented with few avenues of making a living. It isn’t like FMCGs will keep providing them with advertising opportunities way into their old age – Imran khan, again, is an exception.

However, aside from the fact that Amir Sohail has joined politics, what is more surprising is that he has joined a party notoriously labeled as the ‘friendly opposition’ party. The PML-N isn’t even a national party like the PPP, which has honestly risen as more of a national party.

It makes sense though.

How, you might ask?

Consider this: After retiring, Amir Sohail has had occasional stints in the PCB (where he has raked in a sizeable salary). Moreover, he has had sporadic commentary jobs during major tournaments, especially ones featuring Pakistan, for almost every popular sports channel in the region. He has gone down the ‘cricket analyst’ road on all major Pakistani channels, usually undermining our team and hence incurring the wrath of our now former captain and erratic hero, Shahid Afridi.

He has done it all that is expected from our cricketing heroes of yesteryears, including being embroiled in a match fixing scandal, where, he was not one of the alleged ‘fixer’ but rather a whistleblower (Pakistan vs India world cup 96 semi final anyone?).

In light of this, his joining PML-N could help him spearhead his mission of sports in politics- his mission of “wanting to work for the better future of cricket in the country”. Since the dominant party in Punjab has always enjoyed a considerable amount of influence over the PCB, having played pivotal roles time and again in reviving the careers of “Shoaib-Sania-Mirza Malik” and “Kamran-butterfingers-Akmal”.

It is this influence that might have proven a mouthwatering prospect for Amir Sohail. Moreover, Sohail might have been enticed by the fact that the PML-N is being touted as the next big winner in next year’s elections. However, his biggest motivation could be the prospect of him winning a seat in any N-league stronghold constituency and maybe, just maybe becoming a sports minister of sorts. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to imagine the clout he would enjoy over the PCB if that ever transpires.

All said and done, let’s not forget that Amir Sohail was and is one of the most prolific opening batsmen Pakistan has ever had, having served also as national team captain. What has gotten him into trouble has been his aggressive attitude – which might explain why he didn’t opt for MQM, operated with an iron fist from the UK, or PPP, controlled by the honorable president and party co-chairman.

His addition to PML-N seems to be a win win situation. This is because every other party has its share of celebrities. The PML-N was lacking a popular one from Punjab, a void now filled by Amir Sohail.

Let us all be good sports about this, and wish the ever controversial and opinionated Amir Sohail all the best in his new career. Let us hope that he is more than a celebrity politician, whose sole purpose is to be a party mascot who merely brings in the crowds.

Yousuf Saifuddin

Yousuf Saifuddin

A Sub Editor on the Web Desk of The Express Tribune. He tweets @yousufsaifuddin

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • dextor

    I am sorry but in picture it is looking like amir sohail is wearing kurta..tucked in pent…by the way its a bad decesion…Recommend

  • Mooed

    good decision Recommend

  • blithe

    Your article gives subjectivity a new meaning…Recommend

  • http://facebook.com/kanjoo Ahmed

    I would like to know what is Amir’s point of view about the division of Punjab and ultimately its hegemony?Recommend

  • Gohar

    For the record Mr Saifuddin, Sarfaraz Nawaz is not the ‘self-proclaimed’ inventor of reverse swing, he IS the inventor. Similarly, Sarfaraz did teach Imran that art. For reference read Imran Khan’s biography in which he (Imran) talks in detail on the subject.
    I am no fan of PML but to say that it’s not a national party is a bloody joke. Recommend

  • MAD

    He wants to stand against Imran Khan. I wonder what grudge he has against the man who gave him his first shot at playing for Pakistan.Recommend

  • Ahmer Ali Khan

    He has always been an idiot. He has proven it again along with the sucker Sarfraz Nawaz.Recommend

  • http://twitter.com/#!/Pugnate Noman Ansari

    Amir’s heart has always been in the right place. He just has been too hot headed to do anything right. He picked fights with every cricketer in the team! It started with the corrupt, but pretty soon he was picking fights with even the honest blokes. Recommend

  • Bilal

    Haha Amir wants to be Tariq Banday …. he would just endup being another sarfraz nawaz … the best part of watching aamir commentate is when all his predictions go wrong … remember when he said in 2003 that afridi will never play for pakistan again Recommend

  • voice of lahore

    Soon ur graph is decreasing day by day ….
    its a very bad decision..
    Ur decision is against of Paki youth…
    Recommend

  • http://usamahamayun@blogspot.com Usama Hamayun

    You are referring to the wrong match while talking about Amir Sohail’s past match fixing scandals. Pakistan didn’t even reach the semi-final of 1996 worldcup…it was the Pak-India quarter-final you might be referring to.Recommend

  • Emmad Toor

    Best of luck Aamir. Recommend

  • zia ur rehman

    not a good decision at all to join a party who’s graph is falling rapidly!!!!!!!! Recommend

  • Blue Moon

    Amir:
    (a) if you a patriotic Pakistani, your decision of joing PML (N) is wrong because they are no different than PPP (both are corrupt and tax eaters);
    (b) if you are an opportunist, again your decision is wrong because PML (N)’s popularity is severly hampered due the their filthy acts.

    Recommend

  • Faheem

    Aamir Sohail is Rehaman Malik of cricket. Recommend

  • TK

    Pakistan vs India 96 quater-final *Recommend

  • Ali Quaid

    Does he think himself as Imran Khan? Bad decision.Recommend

  • A Pakistani

    Good decision,wish u the best of luck Aamir.Recommend

  • Al Khan

    amir sohail not for politics, hes joining mughal e azam nawaz sharif who only pays 500 rupees tax, poor man he has properties in the most expensive area of london in mayfair shame on u, cnt believr these sort of ppl in goverment, zardari is an open book he is just heartless, these ppl hv com into power through fake votes & fake degrees as 45% of 08 election votes were fake just shows the joke being played with this poor nation

    only hope is the youth who will get their votes registered as 70% of pak population is under the age of 30 who are all behind Imran Khan & will vote 4 change & that is PTI Imran Khan Party so that PTI can get tax off these rich people who are living like kings so that the rich subsidise the poor & also get rid of corruption which only an honest, clean & loyal leader can who is the great Imran KhanRecommend

  • saqib

    good decion aganst zardari grup.best of luck amirRecommend

  • Mastishhk

    @Faheem..Ultimate Compliment..U said it all :))Recommend

  • Taha Durrani

    Informative and an interesting piece – lets hope Aamir Sohail does not resort to his typical flamboyant and blunt self, for the interesting times ahead!

    @Dextor: I think its a formal shirt with a kurta collar – they’re catching up these days. :)Recommend

  • http://www.maazkhan.com Maaz A. Khan

    Yousuf Saifuddin…You wrote this to perfection!Recommend

  • Ibrahim. Shabbir

    Love ur writing Yosuf…Keep us posted with all your work!Recommend

  • Sarfraz Ahmed

    The Sharif bothers, under the delusion that Imran Khan’s following is growing solely as result of his recognition as cricketer ( it is somehow another matter that it is just on face book like Musharraf) have inducted former Pakistan captain, Aamir Sohail, into their party. If cricket were the only reason for Imran’s wrongly calculated popularity, his party would have won elections a long time back. The only thing that the PML-N will achieve by this is to wreck Aamir Sohail’s standing as a cricket commentator. Aamir Sohail too should understand that politics and Cricket are two different and opposite fields. Such asinine move will harm his credibility as a commentator and a good player. Furthermore Imran is recognized for several other achievements besides cricket like Cancer Hospital and some charitable organizations. It seems that our players like our artists ( Attiqua Odho and some other), want a taste of politics even though, in the past many artists and people from other fields of life joined politics but earned nothing except losing their fame earned in their own field. Furthermore, it seems that Nawaz Sharif has started running after shadows, adding such people to their party, who have nothing to do with politics will further undermine his parties already falling popularity. PML-N chief should also keep in mind that Pakistan needs seasoned politicians to bring Pakistan out of quagmire of issues not cricketers, actors and players.Recommend

  • talha ahmed

    Amir Sohail cant beat Imran Khan even in his wildest of deams as far as N League goes the party is losing its graph rapidly so Sohail would only repent Recommend

  • waqas

    you know friends ? the other day i was readin in paper that PML N is planning to raise AAMIR against IMRAN KHAN in next election on probably saman a bad seat !!! lol what a short career AAMIR would have in politics :P

    IK is man od words MIAN SAHB!!! don’t try to ruin AMIR plz !!!Recommend

  • Azmat Ali

    This is a good decision …. A straight forward person has joined the visionary Party of the country.Recommend

  • https://twitter.com/#!/yousuferanpur Yousuf

    Thank you all for your generous feedback and criticism, alike.
    I would like to point out, like others above, that it was indeed the ‘infamous’ quarter final match of wc’96 and another thing that Sarfaraz Nawaz was a PPP member, who recently joined the MQM.Recommend

  • Hassaan

    Well one good thing for sure resulting from this is that we will be spared from listening to his stupid commentary, that usually comes up during Pakistan’s ‘home series’. Although Ten Sports doesn’t have many options, I suppose they can surely find better than Amir Sohail or Mohammad Akram.Recommend

  • ABC

    I don`t know about this gentleman in detail, however I fully remember one cricket match in which there were two options in his hand one was he could achieve 100 runs by playing slowly and only hit loose balls, other was to play for the country and make runs, which certainly involved a bit risk. I fully remember, he was playing for himself and completed his hundred, but he did not play for the country.
    Now how can I expect him for doing something for country?Recommend

  • Karim Javed

    When all sources of bread and butter closes then a man chooses this path. And same Aamir have done and nothing else. And talking about competing Imran Khan it’s impossible Imran Khan has a political mind and he is too sharp for today’s politicians. Even sometimes some politicians stays away from Imran Khan because he is too much ready for every question.Recommend