A victory for Pakistan does not necessarily mean a loss for India

Published: June 23, 2017
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Cheerleaders from India and Pakistan add zing to cricket. PHOTO: AFP

Ever since I can remember becoming zee shaoor (in possession of one’s full mental capacity), my household has been a hard core, absolutely bonkers, completely ridiculous, and rowdy cricket fan.

It runs in the genes, so they tell me.

My father often tells me how my paternal great grandfather used to listen to the English commentary of cricket matches on the radio in the 50s, where he was one of the few individuals in my rural hometown of Hala, Sindh, to own a radio.

English commentary? Rural Sindh? 50s? What am I saying?

But yes, he had received a scholarship of Rs5 before the Partition from the Abdullah Haroon family to study at Junagadh. He used to travel to and from Junagadh on a boat where he completed his education and learnt the colonial master’s tongue. The British left, but cricket never left that old man, and his wife could never understand what really happened to him with a radio to his head and Abdul Hafeez Kardar leading the Pakistani team on British soil.

Abdul Kardar. Photo: PA

Coming back to cricket, my grandfather’s favourite was Inzamamul Haq and my father absolutely doted (and still does) over Imran Khan. My brother has always been cricket crazy and I sometimes suspect that he has some form of obsession attached to the game. In the 90s decade, while we were growing up, two brothers separated by half a dozen years of both maturity and life experiences, he used to spend his monthly pocket money of Rs100 on buying the English ‘Cricketer’ and Urdu ‘Akhbar-e-Watan’ magazines.

To cover the expenses of such frivolous spending, he used to take over my pocket money of Rs70 too. And so it was my conscious decision to rebel against the sacred family norm (much like in everything else that I have done in my life) and start following football as a sport. Well, it didn’t work out for me. You see, genetic anomalies are hard to get over. Arsenal’s fervour died over the years after the magician Thierry Henry retired and today, I don’t even know who won the English Premier League this season. So, cricket had me trapped again, drawing myself into its snares and here I am writing about it.

Inzamamul Haq finally crossed 50 in the series, Pakistan v West Indies, 4th day, 3rd Test, karachi, November 30, 2006. Photo: AFP

Imran Khan savours the moment of victory, Pakistan v England, World Cup final, 1992. Photo: Getty Images

So we won the ICC Champions Trophy. Yes, we beat India in the finals of that tournament at the hallowed Oval ground on Sunday, June 18th, and completed our trophy shelf. Now we have the ICC ODI World Cup 1992, the ICC T20 World Cup 2009 and the ICC Champions Trophy 2017. Yes, we won that, and I am extremely proud of the boys in green.

Pakistan won their first Champions Trophy title, India v Pakistan, Final, Champions Trophy 2017, The Oval, London, June 18, 2017. Photo: PA

And believe me, I never liked Rishi Kapoor’s tweets as well and found them to be immensely cantankerous to say the least; lacking in culture and symptomatic of some heavy drinking episodes. I also remember it was Kapoor who congratulated Pakistanis on having international cricket back in Pakistan when he saw the Gaddafi stadium light up to welcome the Zimbabwean team back in 2015.

And after making some ill-thought out ‘dad jokes’ this time around, he conceded defeat beautifully after the game and accepted that team Pakistan outplayed the men in blue in all departments. That should have put an end to things, but we Pakistanis had a point to prove and we said our peace alright. Rather, I believe we said more.

Cricket, yes, it is such a beautiful game and what powerful emotions it carries for the people of the subcontinent. But cricket is just a sport and much like any other sport, it cannot resolve the deep-set issues of poverty, want, illiteracy and death that plague the lives of millions across both sides of the Line of Control (LoC). It cannot cure malnutrition, neither can it give us potable water to drink in Thar or Rajasthan, nor end the caste and creed-ridden conflicts in India and Pakistan.

However, it can unite people not only within borders, but also across them. And I saw that so many times after this Pakistan versus India encounter. When it was our former cricket captain Aamir Sohail making some ridiculous claims against captain Sarfraz Ahmed, it was Calcutta’s prince Saurav Ganguly who shut him up. Virat Kohli was magnanimous in his praise of the Pakistan cricket team before and after the match. Shoaib Malik hung out with the Indian cricket team sharing a good laugh and in the midst of all the cacophony of daddy jokes, I saw many videos going viral on social media where fans of both countries cheered each other on, be it on a London tube or a rowdy bar. And that gave me hope; it made me so optimistic.

I have been to India once in my life when I took some of my students to Ajmer’s premiere Mayo College. I wrote about that journey in The Express Tribune weekly magazine back in 2014. On that memorable trip, I interacted with Indian teachers, students and common people. And you ought to believe me when I write that they are the same people as us, made out of the same fabric of South Asian stock, piping the same dreams and as much afraid of the frailty of life as we are. They face the same conundrums in their daily lives, and have the same pot holes to wake up to every day. They do not hate us.

Just to quote one instance, when we visited Khawaja Moinuddin Chishti’s dargah at Ajmer Sharif, it was one Rajput Mayo teacher who took the whole load of flowers on his head to pay respects to Pir sahib. My kids and I watched Bhoothnath 2 with Indian children in the cinema and they hung out with them in the same way that they used to do with their friends over here. Our host teacher Vijender Singh, had us teachers over for tea at his home, where we got to know that his wife belonged to a border area near Sialkot and wishes to see the Pakistani city once in her life. It was beautiful. And it really touched me.

Yes, Pakistan and India have a lot of political scores to settle and military deals to work out. But that should not stop people of both countries to ache for a better future. A future which does not mean that a victory for Pakistan has to be India’s loss, where closed borders do not signal closed minds and shattered dreams, where children from both the countries have to do some patakhe phorna (lighting fireworks) only at the other side’s defeat.

France and Germany fought more virulent wars than us and killed millions of each other’s citizens in doing so. Today, they hold the European Union (EU) together, have the same currency, keep their borders open and cooperate with each other in educational pursuits.

Can’t we expect our two countries to at least start to walk towards that goal? Can’t we expect India and Pakistan to be on the same level of mutual respect and coexistenceMohammad Ali Jinnah and Jawaharlal Nehru never wanted the two countries to be on the present level of animosity and had hoped for a relationship much on the lines that is between the US and Canada. Haven’t the people of the subcontinent suffered enough to at least start to remember that?

Is that too much to hope for?

Maybe it is. Maybe it is not. But at least, cricket has shown that such a possibility might not be a naivety. No sir, not at all.

Taimur Arbab

Taimur Arbab

A former sub-editor at The Express Tribune, college teacher of Sociology and English Language and a graduate student at Aga Khan Institute for Educational Development, who leans toward the left side of the political spectrum and looks for ideas for his short stories and poems in the everyday happenings of life. He can be reached at [email protected]

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

  • israr

    the reason why Pakistan was separated from India was clear its a two nation theory and two nation theory clearly says Pakistan is a SEPERATE nation and not part of India so kindly treat us like you would treat any other nation, now Indians have understood however their politicians have not, the picture with Indian holding a Pakistani flag clearly shows what it actually means to an Indian, just another country other than India simpleRecommend

  • Yogi Berra

    Tall order. Not gonna happen in our life time. At least till cross border terror attacks stop. In fact in next one year I see Iran, US, Afghanistan and India launching independent attacks on Pakistan due to this terror issue.Recommend

  • Cynical

    Voice of sanity. So rare a commodity in this kafkaesque time.Recommend

  • Parvez

    Enjoyed reading that. Let’s be honest the conditions you dream of between the two countries will only remain that …..a dream, at least for the foreseeable future.Recommend

  • salman

    We won, they lost. It’s just a game. Lets get on with the more important things in our lives….is what a “normal” response should be. And largely it was. However, with the indian media and some indian stars deciding to up the ante with some truly offensive language and arrogance, you can’t begrudge Pakistanis having the last laugh this week with some cheeky responses.Recommend

  • Rajiv

    France and Germany were people of same race and same religion.
    It’s not so in the case of India & Pakistan.
    So, NO it can’t be.Recommend

  • Huzur

    Get friendly and there are a a lot of people who will lose their importance and their jobs.hate keeps them fully occupied and well paid.Recommend

  • LS

    I think this is a tired argument. There would of course would be commonality between the country because they were the SAME country before and of course there would be regional differences but the way Muslims crated the chasm and asked for a separate country because of a shallow reason of religion cannot be justified in anyway but I am glad they went away since it would have only created a civil war in India and doomed the future of the whole region. Anyone who can ask for a separate nation in the name of religion ought to be shallowest person: This also means following:

    1) While they ruled they had no issues because they were in commanding position
    2) As soon as local natives gained an upper hand due to better education the same population became belligerent since they lost the edge.
    3) Demanded a nation KNOWING they will NO LONGER be ruling class and even asked British to hand over the land the them – willing to keep the Hindus down.

    So basically Muslims or converted muslims are happy anywhere as long as they are ruling but become unhappy as soon as there is a chance that someone else can rule over them. Same is playing out in these countries:
    – Muslims demanding a separate state in Norway led by a pakistani
    – Muslims are AGAIN demanding another separate state in India
    – Muslims are demanding separate state in Sri-Lanka
    – Muslims are demanding separate state in Myanmar
    – Muslims are demanding separate state in China
    – Muslims are demanding separate land in Thailand (South)
    – Muslims are demanding separate land in Israel (Palestine)
    – Muslims are demanding separate land in Democratic republic of Congo

    In all other countries where they are low minority they are asking for sharia or separate beaches, pork ban and what not. The above list isn’t a coincidence a look at Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh tells you what happens to a non-muslim when muslims get hold of a country.Recommend

  • Sane

    Rishi Kapoor: Father defeated Son. Why son is crying? Son must be cherish, after all Father won. I think son will not play more with father. You keep crying, we don’t care.Recommend

  • Sane

    If Pakistan progresses or achieve anything, it is termed as loss to Indians. Indians are crying baby and shall not mend their ways. Damn care.Recommend

  • Sane

    First drink some milk to have some energy.Recommend

  • Yogi Berra

    Milk is for sissies. I drink something stronger my friend.Recommend