Dear Imran Khan, if you’re going to blame Najam Sethi for Pakistan’s defeats, then praise him for their wins also

Published: June 21, 2017

But the worst was that despite the Pakistan win, PTI supporters manhandled Sethi and his wife outside the Oval, which merely shows their pettiness.

I was a teenager when Imran Khan, one of the most famous cricketers our country has produced, lifted the World Cup in 1992. I remember watching the match with my family and how they yelled with joy. I remember the euphoria I felt when I went outside to the nearby liberty market to witness what were unimaginable levels of fervour and joy. People were dancing and performing bhangra. The streets which had been almost deserted during the match, as everyone was glued to their TV screens, had suddenly become overwhelmingly alive.

Cricket is such a uniting force in Pakistan and for those brief moments, from Karachi to the mountainous area of Gilgit Baltistan, Pakistan had become one. Everyone was cheering and there was an overarching feeling of unity.

That night, I danced in the streets holding Imran’s poster with all those who had gone mad. Those scenes have become imprinted in our memory, and whenever we feel low, we try to recall those moments to assure ourselves that we have the potential to do it again.

Twenty-five years later, I am no longer living in Pakistan but in a small town in the US. When Pakistan won, I did not yell or dance. I cried. Somehow the tears came rolling down and could not stop.

Victory this time was sweeter and perhaps only the tears could express what I was feeling.

Victory was sweeter because it had come after a long draught and was achieved by a team which was young and inexperienced. A team which had been the lowest ranked team at the start of the tournament and got badly bruised in the first match. But then, the very same team turned everything around and in such an emphatic manner that it literally blew away both England and India, the joint favourites, in successive matches.

The 1992 turnaround was fairy tale stuff, but this exceeded even that. In 1992, the comeback was splendid but our wins in the semi-final and final were not one-sided. This time, the Pakistan team’s turnaround was so tremendous that world class teams like England and India looked like minnows in the semi-final and final respectively. It is perhaps the greatest ‘come-from-behind’ victory, which will be talked about for years.

Victory is also sweeter because our nation has been desperate for good news. Nothing collectively uplifts Pakistan like a cricket win and as I write these sentences, I know Pakistanis back home are feeling ecstatic and will continue to feel euphoric for days.

Victory is also sweeter because of the jingoistic and hate-filled diatribe which was constantly coming from certain sections (not all, as some were sensible) of Indian electronic and social media. I am not a typical ‘patriotic’ person by any stretch of the imagination, but even I could not keep myself from feeling anger after watching some of the things that were being telecasted on electronic and social media.

People like Virendar SehwagArnab Goswami and Rishi Kapoor, to name a few, had been downright condescending. The victory has stunned them and silenced them. Compared to them, the Indian Captain Virat Kohli has shown class and good sportsmanship.

The victory has also given a shut up call to many Pakistani ‘experts’ who had constantly been belittling the cricket team and writing it off. People like Aamir Sohail went further and were undermining the team, despite the fact that it had successfully made to the final.

The victory has finally dented the legend that Pakistan could only win international ODI tournaments under Imran. The fact that Pakistan had not won an international tournament after the 1992 World Cup endeared Imran even more; as many came to attribute the victory solely to Imran’s leadership.

Since Pakistan was knocked out in the subsequent World Cups, public fascination with the 1992 tournament and Imran increased further. The phrase “cornered tigers” became permanently ingrained in the national psyche. More than anything else, this legend has given Imran the political capital which he commands today. If Pakistan had won international tournaments after 1992, Imran would not have become this prominent.

For the past 25 years, Imran has constantly milked the 1992 victory to his political advantage. This victory in the International Cricket Council (ICC) championship has allowed Pakistan to step out of the shadow of Imran, and in my opinion, it is a great development.

Finally, the win has been a vindication for the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) and more importantly, for Najam Sethi. Whenever Pakistan has performed poorly, cricket fans, particularly those who have a political affiliation with the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), have put the entire blame on Sethi. After the first loss, Imran was extremely critical and went as far as suggesting that Sethi should have been included as a player and alleged that cricket was in decline because of Sethi. Of course, Imran did not give any credit for the fact that the Pakistan Test team was able to reach the number one ranking under Sethi, or the fact that despite security risks, Sethi managed to hold the Pakistan Super League (PSL) final in Lahore.

My point of view is this that if you blame him entirely for Pakistan’s defeats, then fairness demands that you also give him credit for the wins. Here, Imran and his supporters put the entire blame on Sethi when we lose and do not show the basic decency of giving him even partial credit when Pakistan wins.

After the victory, Imran could not even show basic sportsmanship and congratulate the PCB. If Pakistan had lost, I am positive that Imran would have launched a tirade against him. My request to Imran and the hordes of his impressionable and self-righteous supporters is that if you blame Sethi for the defeats, then please give him credit for the victories as well.

But the worst was that despite the Pakistan win, PTI supporters manhandled Sethi and his wife outside the Oval, which merely shows their pettiness. Even worse, instead of condemning this, PTI actually endorsed this by bragging about it in a tweet. This is the kind of reprehensible attitude the so-called educated party has.

Yes, victory has been sweeter but incidences like this have also left a slight bitter aftertaste in the mouth.


Raza Habib Raja

The author is a recent Cornell graduate and currently pursuing his PhD in political science at Maxwell School, Syracuse University. He has also worked for a leading development finance institution in Pakistan. He is a freelance journalist whose works have been published at Huffington Post, Dawn (Pakistan), Express Tribune (Pakistan) and Pak Tea House. He tweets @razaraja (

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

  • rumi52

    I agree with the writer’s view on Imran Khan, he even has a dig at the PTI for being a ‘so called educated party’ Imran Khan criticizes the cricket team all the time but when he was asked to step in and help the PCB he says he doesn’t have the time. Imran gave Pakistani cricket team a POISONED legacy, he ruled the 1992 team by divide and rule with him as the master. When the master retired the rest of the team turned on each other. However at the same time I remember that this writer also wrote an article months ago saying that only a PPP government could best serve Pakistan. Really a PPP government, the same PPP Party let by Zardari? As for the Pakistani supporters shouting “Go Nawaz Go”, Sethi has done wonders with the cricket team but he is a political appointee of Nawaz Sharif and so has to take the negative comments against his master. Zardari, PPP, Muslim League, PTI they are all the same. This context of this article is just a PPP supporter having a rant against the PTI.Recommend

  • Waseel Ahmad

    Baat to such hai…but baat hai ruswai ki….Anyways say whatever is right. Its fairly true whatever you said. A sportsman should have sportsman spirit.Recommend

  • انصاف اور مساوات

    Why give credit to Najam Sethi, have you seen people giving credit to Lt Gen Zahid Akbar for 1992 WC or Ejaz Butt for 2009 T20 WC cup?
    Moreover, Imran is always raising his voice about revamp of domestic structure since last four decades, is there any progress on this front??Recommend

  • looking at you

    u need a mental assessment , every one knew in Imran era, if u r not talented or so called son of the rich daddies still u r not welcome, and the time he left Pakistan team so called wasim akram team was the best ever team Pakistan ever had, and Imran had a relatively blend of youngster and oldies
    first of all who’s is sethi journalist or Nawaz sharif pet
    MR idiot Imran’s not targeting sethi, he is targeting the way he was no one to become care taker of election 2013 and then to become PCB’s GOD father, how this process happened ?
    relatively pre 2013 Imran and sethi had the Good terms…………and change ur nick name ,,, rumi,
    question for the writer, PSL suck up so much of money to start this entertainment show, imagine if they have listen to Imran to invest on the local level, to up lift the spirit of the game rather the fame of the game
    look at the how we are playing hockey these day, do we need sethi to arrange psl hockey as well.Recommend

  • Nana

    What has IK done for the development of cricket after retirement? With phatechar and railukata players, NS did what IK didn’t do for the sport which gave him name, fame and recognition.Recommend

  • Zeeshan H

    Imran Khan offered to Coach the Pakistan Cricket Team for FREE many years ago. But NO, The PCB need a puppet who “they can control”. To be a politician, you have to play the game and contradict, its a dirty game. The current coaching staff of the Pakistan team is “less political”& more “strategic”. Sarfaraz was PAKISTAN’s U-19 world cup winner, so please explain WHY he was brought in the national team so late? NOW their is balance & leadership in the team. We have Urdu Speakers, Pathans & Punjabis, before it was a just a “mak-khan laganay waala dictatorship” Im no member of any of the 111 political parties of Pakistan, but so far for 20 years, there is only 1 man Pakistan’s Defence Forces will Salute with Pride if he was in charge, & that is Imran Khan. Every one is a thief in 1 way or another. Intelligence agencies of Iran, India, Afghanistan, Israel, & inner Tribal conflicts, & Corruption are non-stop, & all these people want nothing but the numbers in their bank accounts to increase.Recommend

  • Parvez

    Nice point made …… the opinion of a friend who is much more ‘ with it ‘ than I am, as far as cricket is concerned was ‘ Full credit goes to our boys they won despite the PCB ‘…… everyone has an opinion, I suppose.Recommend

  • Hamayun Aslam

    Dear Mr. Raja, being a student of PhD, I don’t expect this from you! You need to put aside a single concept for a second of political affiliation with any party and think again! In cricketing world, we are continuously deteriorating ourselves and in last 10 years, we are struggling to even qualify in any big event! So there is some thing fundamentally wrong. If you agree with me over here, than think, who is going to fix it? Me, you, players or board? IK, always presses to rule out glitches and fix the issues which can only fix by board. No it’s being 4 years till date that Mr. Sethi has joined the pcb office. What major changes he has made that make us think, he is progressing the cricket In right direction not even a single? We can become a world number one once in a life time and that too by the virtue of luck or bad luck of other teams. We can win the Champion trophy once in life time purely on sheer talent but can’t wins it again and again unless we have a strong board and basic sound structure. Bro, in a country, where you shed your years in escatcy of win, NO ONE, can be appointed in any organization without merit. Before you wrote this centy lines, have you ever thought, you are supporting a goon who has NO credibility in his own field I.e, political media, how can he save a ever love of cricket in our country? PSL idea was conceived by ex chairman and he was wrongly fully resigned by this gentleman Mr. SETHI by the pressure of his backed government. I am not negating your thoughts, I am I only saying he has nothing to do In our wins but he has everything to do I n our losses. Stop prompting people who is enjoying political backed assignments that’s too without any merit. Such people are ruining Pakistan in every field. They should be thrown out from our lives!Recommend

  • ABKhan

    You should say this when you start appreciating Zardari for CPEC. BTW Najam sethi never accepted the loss of team his fault then why should he get credit for a win? Perhaps common sense is not so common these daysRecommend

  • Muzz

    Flawed logic. One ruined while one rescued. You wanted to praise the one who ruined!Recommend

  • Ahmar

    Imran Khan is a disgrace. PTI followers did the same thing during PCL final in Lahore. They are shameless creatures.

    In his anti-Nawaz drive, Imran Khan and PTI followers have become “Anti-Pakistani Cricket”. They become happily critical when Pakistan loses and go quiet when we win.Recommend

  • Ahmar

    People seem to have a short memory. Najam Sethi is a neutral person. He was publicly beaten up and humiliated by Nawaz Sharif’s thugs during the 90’s for writing against them in Jang newspaper.

    Najam Sethi is more of a center-left moderate and a journalist. Over the decades he’s become respected by both major parties (PPP and PML) for his non-partisan neutrality and was given the powers for the transitional administration during 2013 elections, which to his credit, he ran as fairly as possible. The N League only warmed up to him after the 2013 elections and he was made the cricket administrator.

    He is not in any way or has ever been affiliated with Nawaz League or a supporter of Nawaz Sharif. He tries to maintain contacts with all parties (even within military establishment) to get information and news scoops, but he has no masters.

    I remember he even wrote very favorably of Imran Khan when no one gave PTI the time of the day during Musharraf’s era. However his writings changed gradually, given Imran’s staunch support for Taliban and no condemnation of suicide bombings against civilians in Pakistan.

    You’d know all this if you’d been reading his columns and articles from the 90’s to the 2000’s.Recommend

  • Keyboard Soldier

    That would require Imran Khan to have sportsman spirit. That author is asking too much from him.Recommend

  • Scary

    So right. I agree with you. Imran is a selfish, vindictive and arrogant man who just does not want Pakistan to succeed for anything unless he does it. I wish he is magnanimous in recognizing the hard work of Najam SethiRecommend

  • numbersnumbers

    Recall that back when the TTP was slaughtering Pakistanis on a weekly basis, the great IK could not bring himself to use the words “TTP” and “terrorists” in the same sentence!Recommend

  • sibte shah

    You have expressed mine and the nation’s feeling perfectly, jeety raho.Recommend

  • Sane

    Pakistan could have won the world cup, if ‘planning’ by Sharif aide could be averted.Recommend

  • Haris

    Najam Sethi is a political appointment on a technical position. Means he takes all the blame and none of the credit, and rightly so. Seems like the author needs to study Ethics 101.Recommend

  • Patwari

    This is the same Najmal Soothi of “36 punctures”….!!! Given chairmanship
    of PCB as reward. To milk the dollars for his retirement [off shore] accounts.
    Very lucrative appointment. Given ONLY to very loyal supporters, of PML-N
    So he is a political appointee. He has literally destroyed cricket in Pakland.
    The team was basically a loosing team. Everywhere. Up until Oval…
    He knows nothing about cricket. Has his toadies, sycophants, fawners, flatterers.
    Hope this new team of winners will keep their morale and motivation up.
    Inspite of [guaranteed] future, perpetual, interference by Najmal.Recommend

  • Fahad Yousuf

    Mr. Writer you are actually 100% correct in your sayings. The same is actually my point of view that if winning a World Cup makes u PM then Ricky Ponting should now be the King of the World !!! Anyways this breed grown by the likes of imran khan will soon be done and dusted into the rubbish bins. Secondly the incident of Najam Sethi and his wife is a typical goons response in happiness moments. For me it is simply the case same as the young boy of model colony Karachi who was shot dead my aerial firing after Pakistan victory. Recommend

  • Zeeshan

    You seem to have Love-Hate relationship with IK, so I won’t blame you for your skewed logic!Recommend

  • Tariq Abbasi

    agree and support NajamRecommend

  • Syed Yasin Shah

    Looks like this comment has been written by Najam Sethi himself .Recommend

  • rumi52

    I have in the past read many of Najam Sethi’s articles mainly between 2000 and possibly 2010. Stopped reading around 2010. Some I agreed with, some I liked and some I found irritating. I think I found some of them irritating because he came across as elitist, I don’t have an issue with liberal view but he did come across sometimes as elitist. There is an educated elite class in Pakistan who look down upon their fellow Pakistanis for conservative views and practices. There are many liberals who show respect to their fellow Pakistanis who are conservative. I just found Mr Sethi to sometimes have a sneering attitude in his articles to the average Pakistani. That said I think he did a great job with the recent PSL. I don’t know the inside dealings of the PCB and as someone else has said if he has ‘destroyed cricket’ I can only comment on the results, which have obviously been good.Recommend

  • rumi52

    Dear ‘your father’ dear me no need to be rude and request that I have a mental assessment. Can you not disagree with me politely. Look at how Ahmar has politely defended Sethi after my original comment calling him a political appointee, Ahmar has done so without making personal comments. I found Ahmar’s comments interesting and have respect his point of view on Sethi. Perhaps naively I view these comments as an exchange of ideas. By the way I like the name Rumi.Recommend

  • Amir Sultan

    The author has time and again shown his dislike for Imran Khan. I mean how did you even dig up such a stretch of a story.
    Secondly to even assume that Najam Sethi knows the first thing about cricket is naive at best. I would not blame Imran Khan if he took this on a more personal level, to see the team he once led to victory being managed by an inept govt shill.Recommend

  • Mehmood Malik

    Nowhere in the world apart from Pakistan the prime minister of the country selects the chairman of the cricket board, cronyism and VIP culture is the reason it is not maximising the potential of our gifted players, we should be beating Kohli and co on a regular basis rather then every now and again.

    Go Nawaz Go and take Sethi with you.Recommend

  • Kasturi K

    Who started PSL for Pakistan when it has been shelved for years?Recommend

  • Kasturi K

    Who started PSL for Pakistan despite been shelved for years due to one reason or another? Give the credit where it is due instead of being biased, so contrary to ‘insaf aur musawaat.’Recommend

  • busybee


  • busybee

    I must add here in addition to Haris comment that Najam Sethi is a political appointment moreover there were numerous times when Govt should have acknowledged Imran Khan as a cricket legend but they fail to do so because of their own political bias. Imran Khan even doesn’t get invited to the events where an experienced legend like him should never be overlooked. Imran Khan wanted to coach the team remember. Corrupts like writer’s dear Najam Sethi should not be appreciatedRecommend

  • Ahmar

    No, actually I am Aamir Liaquat. Ban gaye naRecommend

  • Rooh Ullah Khattak

    May be Najam does not deserve the praise, but I guess criticising him and holding him responsible for bad performance of our team is not based on sound logic. IK may not be wrong in not giving Najam credit, but discrediting him is also not right.Recommend

  • Zeeshan Khan

    Dear Reader, Forget Imran Khan, just ask the general public if they want to give credit to Najam Sethi, so stop wasting your time . If you want you can actually praise Najam Sehti all day long. PEACERecommend

  • Zeeshan Khan

    Which PSL? The same one that has seen Corruptions at its very beginning .. just wait and see and this scandal will also see light of day very soon…Recommend

  • Zeeshan Khan

    LOLL.. Najam Sethi and neutral…Recommend

  • Zeeshan Khan

    LOL.. who in Pakistan right now is willing for Pakistan to progress. Each and every Government has had its share in corruption and increasing the foreign loans, so he will criticize everyone. The one thing that we as a common man are used to (which Imran Khan doesn’t) is that petrol price increase, electricity price increased. He is one man who is actually fighting on our behalf. Recommend

  • Despicable Dude

    Too many Aamir Sohails here.

    While I do agree with IK and PTIans that Najam Sethi is a political appointee, but he has brought positive changes in PCB. Ofccourse not to the level IK suggests, because his suggestions are for an ideal setup. and that takes time, ALOT of time, and everyone has different approaches how to get there. You can disagree with the approaches, but you SHOULD NOT launch a personal attack on the other person on the basis of different approach.
    Cricket unites us all, and alot of times it unites even Pakistanis and Indians. Why does PTI want to do away with this ? This was the time for celebration and not division.

    When PTI supporters manhandle political opponents They praise them, when same happens with their own PTI starts to cry like little baby.
    Remember NA 246 Election when Imran Ismail decided to put up a political show at Javed Nihari, alot of locals came there, and being MQM strong hold offcourse most of them were MQM supporters, there are videos of that event, no body manhandled anyone there nor was there any chaos there, still PTI started blaming that “MQM goons came to threaten Imran Ismail”

    IK although currently the best of the political lot to lead the country, still has a lot to learn. His political aim should be to lead and guide the Pakistani public in the right direction and out of the disorder, rather than cultivating the disorder and legitimizing it when he stands to gain from it.

    Yes I repeat, IK is the best among the political leaders to lead the country, and thats not because he is that damn good, its because the bar has been set extremely low by other politicians.Recommend

  • Despicable Dude

    I am not a PMLn supporter. But I fail to find a logic in your statement.
    going by your statement it seems even if he is successful in complete re-hauling of the cricket structure, as per the suggestions of IK. You wont give him credit ???

    Give the credit when credit is due.Recommend

  • Despicable Dude

    He is a political appointee, and there maybe some merit in your 36 puncture allegation.
    But tell me how has Najam Sethi destroyed Pakistani cricket ??
    Your way of thinking and ability to connect the dots baffles me. Recommend

  • Despicable Dude

    Well he is a leftist yes, but he is not neutral for sure (just in political sense).
    But I admit he is improving PCB and the general cricket structure.Recommend

  • Despicable Dude

    I agree on the political appointee stance of yours. But you do have to give him credit for starting PSL.
    Just because it was conceived by Ex chairman, doesnt mean that NS doesnt deserve any credit.
    I can conceive a Utopian World right now, where theres social justice and equality and everybody is rich, does this mean that when at some point in history someone manages to achieve Utopian world, he wont get credit for it and I will ??Recommend

  • Despicable Dude

    Sports and politics should not be mixed together.
    Najam Sethi is not making political statements from his PCB office. Can you guarantee the same from IK ? IK is a guy who even turn his TED talk political.

    Although PPP is the master of this craftsmanship of turning everything political, PTI and PMLn both are fighting hard to get the second place.
    Also what kind of services IK can offer ?? He doesnt have time, he is running the third biggest political party of the country, do you expect him to have time to coach the team ?
    Will he sacrifice his PTI time for PCB?Recommend

  • RHR

    Did you even read the article or just the title!Recommend

  • RHR

    beta read the article, not just the titleRecommend

  • Nana

    Trust people to spite their own nose in order to look acceptable. IPL is rampant with it but Indians are smart. They do not malign their own people in front of others. Corruption is everywhere. Even not admitting someone’s contribution is also corruption.Recommend

  • looking at you

    apologise for being acting as one way street and certainty sharing an opinions without abusing will make more impact then harm, humble request for forgiveness sir RUMIRecommend

  • Kasturi K

    Trust some people to spite their own nose to look acceptable. IPL is rampant with corruption but you know what, Indians are smart. They do not belittle their own people in front of others. Corruption is everywhere. Even not admitting someone’s contribution is a form of corruption. I do not remember IK ever offering to coach Pakistan cricket team. He retired in 1992 and formed his party in 1996. Since then he has maintained that he has no time for cricket now that he is in politics. BTW, I’ve been following cricket since you were not even born. I know more about IK than you. All he had done was to give verbal advise to change domestic cricket on regional basis which is outdated now because the game has undergone a massive transformation with the advent of t20 format.Recommend

  • Patwari

    If you have not figured it out yet, all by yourself, then
    little explaining pictures need to be drawn for you.
    Najmal appoints “toadies, sycophants, fawners, flatterers”
    as players. Not on merit or performance. YOU can kiss
    his ‘ring’ finger, next thing you know, you are on the squad.
    You follow so far?….nah..not at all.
    Go, have some tea,…… with Maryam….Safdar.Recommend

  • Taimoor Khan

    Well said. Many of these English speaking foreign-educated burger bachay are out of touch with ground reality in Pakistan.Recommend

  • Amir Sultan

    I did. I find most the criticisms voided by Imran’s argument that Sethi should not be in that seat to begin with.Recommend

  • Amir Sultan

    On a side-note please take out the time to read the other articles by this author. He manages to make every single article about Imran khan; hardly objective.Recommend

  • only truth is nature

    Hassan,Fakhar,Imad,were identified in PSL.Weak players too were pin pointed in PSL.Najam Sethi thus needs Kudos for Pakistan’.s win besides the Coach.Recommend

  • Despicable Dude

    Uncle, I have read the whole article. come back when you have something to say that actually contributes to the discussion.Recommend

  • Despicable Dude

    If you had reading skills of a 5th grader then you might have realised that I am not a PMLn supporter, and I agree with you with your views on political meddling of Najam Sethi and also on the way he was appointed.

    And even if I am a PMLn supporter, the discussion here is not about how and why he was appointed for this post nor about how he meddled in the elections. This is about what he has been as the chairman. going by your chain of thoughts, Sarfaraz was also appointed captain under Najm sethi, so lets criticize him also.

    Your arguments arent based or merits at all. its like when somebody compliments a cheff for cooking a really good Biryani , the other person responds by saying he makes a shitty Orange juice, or that he stole the Chicken meat from a shop to make that biryani.Recommend

  • Despicable Dude

    The general public also doesnt give credit to IK, as evident by the election results in Punjab, does that mean Nawaz is better than Imran ?? No. Simple.

    The fact is we keep asking India to keep the politics out of the game.while when it suits us we start to chant political slogans during the match. Cricket is supposed to unite us, not divide us.Recommend

  • Naila Khan

    Pak won the match against india not because of Najam Sethi u idiot but because of finally getting someone smart like Inzamam to become chief selector (who bought in new talent) and appointing Azhar Mehmood as bowling coach. Najam Sethi has no background of skills in cricket and is not even qualified for his post….rightly said by Imran. He is purely an appointment by Nawaz Shariff (not based on merit )as expected like the rest of the members of his party. Pathetic journalism…. couldn’t even assess the reasons for Pak’s win. Journalists like you don’t help educate our nation with your false interpretations & biased outlook. Please learn critical analysis before writing ridiculous articles like this.Recommend