Forget cricket, Amir Sohail enters politics
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.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.