Of footballs ‘made in Pakistan’

Published: July 1, 2014
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We have been kicked for a very long time now. And here we are, yet again. PHOTO: PINTEREST

As Pakistanis, by now we all know that while Pakistan is not playing in the 2014 FIFA World Cup, we are still part of this great event, watched by billions of people around the globe. In fact, I would say that we play a vital part in this year’s World Cup as the official FIFA footballs were manufactured and supplied by Pakistan this year.

Here are four interesting parallels about the world ‘using and kicking our balls’ that will make you cringe, make you angry perhaps and then, hopefully, make you feel proud and hopeful as a Pakistani.

1. Our ‘balls’ are being kicked by the whole world and this might help us eventually

If we consider this fact and then consider our current state as a nation, it’s evident that Pakistan is being kicked by almost everyone at this point in time. The criticism is unfair, we know that, but at the same time, we can’t ignore the fact that it’s coming from everywhere.

“Humara mulk iss waqt buhat hi nazuk daur say guzar raha hai”

(Our country is going through a very vulnerable phase at this point)

Even though I have been hearing the above sentence since forever, the time and ‘phase’ that we are passing through at present really does seem to be the worst ever. All I can say is that history proves that nations that have gone through such hardships end up rising from the ashes and rebuilding themselves. Be it Japan, Russia or Germany, sometimes it takes complete annihilation to start the process of resurrection.

So is this the start of annihilation? Maybe. Resurrection? Who knows…

2. The whole world is watching and cheering without ever thinking whose ‘balls’ are being kicked….

All of us know that ‘man is a social animal’. It is human nature to become part of a crowd and we all know that crowds love spectacles. In ancient times, scores of humans would lose their lives in the form of gladiators amongst thousands of cheering men and women. Sometimes it was man versus man and sometimes man versus beast. Whatever the outcome, humanity would always lose those battles.

History has so many examples of such inhuman ways as part of cultures while at the same time, civilisation and humanity flourished in other forms such as art, music or poetry. One only has to look at the ruins of Colosseum in Rome and then at the thousands of awe-inspiring pieces of art in the museums and galleries of Italy to witness this contradicting phenomenon.

And so, while we are said to live in a so-called ‘highly civilised and socially conscious’ world, people will still cheer as long as we provide them with a spectacle – even if it causes misery to some. For majority it would be ‘entertainment’ – plain and simple. To stop and cry out ‘unfair’ would not change anything unless we change and empower ourselves. A country that is said to shield terrorists, let criminals roam about freely and tolerate hate speech sermons on national television hardly cry out “unfair” if people cheer while our “balls” are being kicked… whether it is by drones or the media.

It is harvest time and you reap what you sow.

3. The whole world is kicking our balls to achieve their goals 

No matter how much I hate conspiracy theories and the fact that I am one of those few Pakistanis who would never point fingers at other nations or neighbours in a second for its own mishaps, I do agree that we are a very strategically important nation in this region. God only knows whether it’s a blessing or a curse, but that’s a fact. And whether it’s our ‘Pakistaniyat’ that forces us to catch a flying arrow thrown at someone else or a brilliantly executed strategy by bigger forces is a question mark.

What is clearly evident is the fact that Pakistan’s name somehow or the other gets involved in anything and everything that happens anywhere in the world; whether it is the Syrian crisis or Iraq, China and Iran connection or even Somalia. Hell, it even gets dragged in a missing airplane tragedy with hundreds of passengers. Even though the Malaysians themselves did a horrible job of handling the entire incident, how many of us can keep a hand on their heart and say they were not actually worried, thinking ‘I hope to God it’s not some Pakistani who has hijacked the plane’.

Point is, whether we like it or not, we have this gift, or curse, of being in a very strategic location coupled with extremely important political positioning. It is up to us to realise our importance and leverage it. A bunch of donkeys and a state-of-the-art cargo plane both may serve the same purpose of carrying and transporting goods for its master, but the treatment, maintenance and care both receive are entirely different. That is also, perhaps, because the master knows that his own life depends on the reliability and condition of the plane while the donkey’s life is its own problem.

 4. If the world can achieve their goals with our balls why can’t we achieve our own?

A good question, isn’t it? I mean, for God’s sake, how is it possible that the entire world recognises our importance in achieving its own noble and not so noble objectives but we are completely unaware of our own significance?

We have been kicked for a very long time now. And here we are, yet again; still ‘going strong’ in terms of ‘going weak’. I am not ready to believe that there still isn’t some sort of a divine plan to keep us going. It was Dhirubhai Ambani who said,

“If you don’t fulfil your own dreams, someone will hire you to fulfil theirs.”

This is so true, not just for individuals but for nations too. You and I, as Pakistanis, should all make our so-called leaders understand one simple thing:

“Mulk ki khao, mulk mat kha jao”

(Eat from this country but don’t eat the country)

Let’s tell them that we know they cannot be completely and whole-heartedly honest. Hell, not even remotely perhaps. So be corrupt then. Swindle, extort, steal, do all that you are qualified to do so. It’s fine. That’s why we chose you as our leader. But please, just be a little more intelligent and business-savvy. Don’t trade your entire country for short term gains. I hate to give a ‘golden goose’ analogy here but in short, while we are exporting it to the world, it’s important that we keep some of those ‘balls’ here and learn how to use them ourselves.

Author’s note: This interesting analogy and the central idea were given to me by my uncle whose own wit and humour could have made this a far more interesting read. However, I tried in my own way as best as I could to remind others and myself as a Pakistani that perhaps it is the ‘balls’ made in Pakistan that Pakistan is missing the most.

Samir Tariq

Samir Tariq

A Strategy and Business Transformation Manager for one of the leading banks in the Middle-East. He lives and works in Dubai. A literature lover and a writer by hobby he mostly writes fiction inspired by true life events.

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

  • Shield

    Just google brazuca ball. Each of those balls sells for $160! That’s Rs. 16,000 per ball. I doubt the local manufacturer is getting even Rs. 600 per ball. Adidas is pocketing the rest. It pays for its white employees and its massive marketing budget which means even more white people working in ad agencies and media outlets in the west. It means celebrities for endorsing their products. We are subsidizing rich westerners. Congratulations! Our textile industry does the same thing. They sell for $6-7 what retails for $50-100 in the west.Recommend

  • Shield

    Oh and no where on these online retail shops is “Pakistan” mentioned. It would really put a damper on sales if they were to mention that it was made in a sweatshop in Sialkot.Recommend

  • نائلہ

    Yeh, the workers were payed $100 per month each. But you can’t just say no to a project just because the people are ‘white’. These balls would be used Internationally and may even result in Pakistan getting more deals in the future. Industries grow, they don’t just ‘pop up’ out of no where. The glass is still half full my friend! Recommend

  • Anon

    This is the worst piece of writing Express Tribune Blogs has ever published.Recommend

  • Spock

    Well for the records, pakistan provided some balls, rest or majority were supplied by china.Recommend

  • EW
  • rao amjad ali

    There are huge cost differentials as the product moves up the value chain. Apart from R&D, there are significant intermediary costs as the product travels from the manufacturer to the end user, including transportation, insurance, advertising, wholesaler and retailer margins. The retailers, remember, up against tremendous competition, must showcase and sell them in high rent stores in the West. You think that Sialkot’s entrepreneurs have the capacity to do all this on their own? Well, If they did, they would have done it a long time ago without waiting for anyone to tell them what needs to be done!
    As an aside, note that only 35% of the Brazuca balls are made in Pakistan, while the remaining 65% are made in China.Recommend

  • Hasan

    Woah! That was really kick-you-in-the-pants-and-smack-you-in-the-face good!
    Great job getting the message across in a very humourous way. I am astonished as to why there is just the one comment on it so far?Recommend

  • paki

    simply love it!!!Recommend

  • Sane

    What you write is known to everyone and this can make you proud and nostalgic without any achievement. We need solutions and practical directions.Recommend

  • Sane

    What you write is known to everyone and this can make you proud and nostalgic without any achievement. We need solutions and practical directions.Recommend

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for reinforcing Pakistan’s hetero-patriarchal culture. Of course, only the “balls” can help this country.Recommend

  • Sane

    Very correct. We buy daily life commodities from retail at 100% or more higher than wholesale. Look at vegetables only in retail prices are exorbitantly high than whole sale. Many times more than 200 to 300 %.Recommend

  • Samir tariq

    It always surprises me how people love to see their comment here without even reading the piece…the article is not about football or the actual economics behind the industry….it was a satire with an intended pun all along…but what the heck, why bother coming across as intelligent through your comment when you can simply be an imbecile through irrelevant talk….(ooppss…there i go again with sarcasm…read this sentence again plz to understand the sarcasm ;) Recommend

  • Samir tariq

    I totally agree..and your comment is the most useful amidst everything else written here ))) …but seriously, appreciate your brutal feedback…Recommend

  • Samir tariq

    Thanks a lot PakiRecommend

  • Samir tariq

    Thanks a lot Hasan for your kind words..i am not astonished though as i wud prefer a complete negative comment as opposed to comments that dont even pertain to what this article is really about…lol…people take literal meanings and start to discuss a Word or a Phrase instead of getting the gist of sarcasm or satire and therefore i think you are one of the few people here who got the humor spot on… ))Recommend

  • Samir tariq

    And thanks for bringing the useless gender debate in a piece where it wasnt even in the remotest corners of the writers mind..Recommend

  • Samir tariq

    Thank youRecommend

  • Shield

    Pakistanis are familiar with the going rates for factory workers here. It is not new information for us.

    I wrote what I did to put things into perspective for people who go on and on about our manufacturers. We are way, way down the food chain. In the past ordinary people in Pakistan could not possibly know the retail price of our manufactured goods in the west. Now we have the Internet and we can see for ourselves. That is the second thing I wanted to share. Use this tool to learn.Recommend

  • Baba Ji

    Ouch !!!Recommend

  • Raz

    Loved the headings… Now as the world cup is over, we should bring our balls back as our country currently need it more..Recommend