Why Aisam Is The Real Winner


So Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi is the name being uttered about by almost every Pakistani these days. Though he has been playing since an early age all on his own without any financial support from the Government or other authorities and has tennis in his genes (having his maternal grandfather, Khawaja Iftikhar was the All-India champion before partition and his mother Nousheen Ihtesham had won the national women title for 10 years and also represented Pakistan in Fed Cup.) – but him becoming the first Pakistani in history to reach any Grand Slam event Final brought him to the light and attention he deserved long ago.

And though he and his partners lost both US Open Mixed Doubles’ Final and Mens’ Double Final to, Aisam turned out to be a hero. After him and his partner Rohan Bopanna were beaten by the Bryan Brother, he delivered a speech which was concise yet was, in short the voice of 180 million Pakistanis:

 

“Every time I come here, I feel there’s a very wrong perception of Pakistan as a terrorist country. I just want to say we are a friendly, caring and peace-loving country and we want peace as much as you all. God bless us all.”

 

 

 

As New York Daily News writes:

“As a Muslim from Pakistan playing in the U.S. Open doubles final, he said New York needed his words the most, as post-9/11 counsel. So the 30-year-old grabbed the microphone and addressed the estimated 15,000 at Arthur Ashe Stadium – probably the biggest crowd to watch a Grand Slam doubles final – and made sure the moment wasn’t lost.

Prize money and rankings were never a motivating factor, Qureshi said, only good news for his flood-stricken countrymen and a platform to express his message of American misunderstanding.

He also defended the decision to build a mosque near the World Trade Center site.

“For me, as a Muslim, that’s what makes America the greatest country in the world – freedom of religion, freedom of speech,” Qureshi said.

“If the mosque is built, I think it’s a huge gesture to all the Muslim community out there in the world. I would really appreciate it.”

Qureshi said he’s been stopped at airport immigration “every time” in New York – three hours at a time – including after his latest flight for the Open. And on the eve of the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, he wanted to defend his country’s masses.

“There are extremists in every religion, but just because of them you cannot judge the whole country as a terrorist nation. I just wanted to get this message across as a Pakistani.”

These simple yet bold words were spoken by him, made the hearts of Pakistanis swell with pride and joy for not only was their true representation done but they were lit up in a time crowded with despondency as the cricket-crazy nation feels ‘betrayed’ with their three top cricketers being embroiled in a shameful spot-fixing scandal and being immersed in floods while trying to fight internal cancers.

Also him, voicing his opinion about the Mosque being built near Ground Zero and his rational reasoning behind why he thinks that way, displays his level of maturity and political awareness.

The message he conveyed was one that hasn’t been given out by many of our so-called leaders and diplomats. He chose the moment to defend his country on American soil with billions, probably, as international audience all over the world. It was a silent declaration of his pure patriotism and love for Pakistan.

Years back in the World Super Junior Championships, he beat Andy Roddick and while Roddick was noticed bythe authorities in his country (despite his defeat) to polish, sponsor and prepare for bigger events , our player was ignored so this event provides us the chance to realize who we should honour and value as national heroes rather than the brazen-faced who lack a conscience when putting a price to their country’s pride.

 Aisam had been playing for ages yet he was never appreciated or encouraged as those in cricket. He made the flag of Pakistan flutter on the courts in a time when we are in an abyss of dim and darkness. He may have not won the matches but he surely won the respect, admiration, support, regardful ness and above all, the hearts and minds of the Pakistani nation.

Pakistan and the world need people like Aisam to bring people together and heal the world with their thoughts of peace.

Aisam, we are proud of you!

Surely you are the winner!

 

– Hafsa Khawaja

O Khaway Gaind Ya Saib, Tauday Sadqay Assi Lala!


Consider it our national fate or a Divine punishment but some kind of ignominy or another seems to chase us all the time. Cricket, being religiously followed in Pakistan like football in Egypt is regarded as an issue of national importance and our Cricket Team, our collective pride but the recent scandal of spot-fixing involving our players has left everyone in a whirl of confusion or piqued with more ‘expositions’ about it popping up by the day.

Despite all the rage and dysphoric atmosphere caused by it, there has been something in it all to smile and smirk about for a certain group of people : the Lala-loyalists.

Since the emergence of claims by British paper ‘News of The World’ of Amir, Asif and Salman Butt match/spot-fixing – other news about how Mazher Majeed, the notorious bookie could not get Shahid Afridi in his fold of activities is also being written about.

Afridi is termed by many as immature, whimsical and his successes as mere ‘flukes’ but the die-hard fans of the Sahibzada (including me) find no reason not to defend him tooth and nail even in his most outrageous doings such as the ball-biting in Australia to which he apologised about and stated why he did it.

 

After he announced his hasty retirement from Test Cricket during the series against Australia, he was subject to heaps of censuring and criticism from almost every Pakistani as to how he ‘cowardly’ ran from the game after losing a fw matches and now it has been revealed why he really left.

Afridi had also barred the Team from meeting the Majeed brothers during his captaincy while informing the management of the shadowy business of the two.

As reported :

“Mazhar Majeed claims to have almost the entire Pakistan cricket team in his pocket but the one man the alleged match-fixer could never get a hold on is the temperamental Shahid Afridi.

In his numerous conversations with the undercover ‘News of the World’ reporter during a sting operation which has exposed a widespread betting scam, Majeed said he couldn’t get Afridi on board in his shady dealings.

“One player he does not want involved is Shahid Afridi, the veteran Pakistan captain in charge of the side in the one-day series. Afridi was not one of the players Majeed had in his pocket,” the tabloid reported.”

That says it all. Afridi is a man of integrity, honesty, character and a true stubborn-but-no-compromise-on-principles Pathan.  And he has a heart, being the first player to actually raise funds for the flood-victims and personally visit the areas to distribute aid while issuing an apology to all the cricket-lovers around the world for the shame the recent scandal has caused them.  And whatever his flaws, he loves the game and Pakistan.

And so I dedicate this post to myself and other Lala-loyalists all over the world who have always believed in one of the best Pakistan has ever produced.

 

People call us biased when defending Afridi, but I would quote the beautiful line from ‘The Kite-Runner’ with my own addition :

“For you Lala,  being biased and rascist,  a thousand times over!”

We love and support THE Great Sahibzada Mohammed Shahid Khan Afridi and will continue to do so.

 

The man who couldn’t be sold, ALL HAIL THE SAHIBZADA!

Boom Boom for the next Pakistan Presidential Elections! 😀

 

– Hafsa Khawaja

Fickle and Mausami Pakistani Cricket ‘Fans’, Take A Hike!


After Pakistan lost the Semi-Final of the T20 World-Cup to Australia, majority of Pakistanis started updating their Facebook statuses abusing and cursing our Team while blaming Afridi for the loss. While anger or depression is natural when you are such a nation that sees the face of depair as much as the rising of the Sun every morning and this game is a single reason for us to smile  but what was surprising was the sudden capricious change in the words and emotions of the Pakistani ‘fans’ who showed their despicable attitude of hurling harsh words at our Team players when only moments ago they were showering them with praises until the tide of the game turned against us.

Our people should have accepted the defeat with grace, remembering the blazing performances by the Akmal brothers and the excellent bowling of Muhammad Amir and Abdul Rehman.

As far as Saeed Ajmal’s bowling in the last over is concerned, then I believe he was the right person at the wrong time. Ajmal is being constantly being censured and being held responsible for the ‘win turned defeat’ at the hands of Australians. Let me also remind all those hurling insults at him to revive their amensia-striken brains about his fantabulous performance as a world-class spinner and an exceptional player, proving to be a lethal weapon for us in previous matches to be used against other teams.  He was the highest wicket-taker for Pakistan in this tournament and the 3rd highest wicket-taker for the T20 WC 2010. He himself was considerably heavy-hearted and dysphoric in disbelief at the end of the match.

In my opinion and for me, Team Pakistan is and will always be the centre of my pride and adoration. Yes, our Team may not have performed upto our expectations in this Tournament and they did make mistakes that could have been avoided but no win is forever. Our team did not put up a fight with the Aussies but a battle. They fought like lions and tried their best. No one would ever want to lose on purpose and it should be realized by now that they are all humans and making mistakes is a component of a mortal’s life and so is loosing and winning entwined with a game as are two sides of a coin. We should all acknowledge their efforts and appreciate their attempts on trying to capture the place in the Final.

At the Presentation Ceremony, it was evident that all our players were crest-fallen and dispirited especially our Captain, Afridi. They have alot of mental pressure on them currently and as a nation we should back them and welcome them home warmly.

As for those mausami fans who rarely watch cricket and criticise the Team just for the sake of showing their involvement in the game and their analytical ability, assail national players with insults and those who have too much of an attitude of scornful or jaded negativity infused in them that they can’t take a defeat or appreciate the positive aspects of a picture, I say, take a hike because Pakistan has had enough of pessimists and cynics.

I admit our Team needs restructuring and organizing to be close to what we want them to be but at the end of the day, Team Pakistan will always represent us and at one time or another, be the source of joy and pride for this nation as it has been in the past. What was never meant to be by the will of the Creator can not be ascribed to people. Cursing or humiliating them means we are deriding our own country and our own selves so support your Team in every situation!

Team Pakistan forever!

– Hafsa Khawaja

Updated : Pakistan lost its first match in the Cricket World Cup 2011 today to New Zealand by 110 runs and all of a sudden, all the aforementioned Mausami ‘Fans’ began to pop up like popcorns. Just a few days before when Pakistan won from Canada, Sri Lanka and Kenya – they were screaming with support and this is a shame.

Fans aren’t those who appear when their team is winning but those who support their players in the worst and best of times. All the rest are those who watch the game for sheer entertainment or time pass.

I say, its not the end of the world that they lost. Our Team did not come into the WC with the guarantee of winning every match, we needed this loss to realize that we need to still be working hard. We already lost the World Cup Hosting rights and in just months saw a runaway wicket-keeper along with 3 players guilty of spot-fixing.

We should be proud of our Team who have struggled and performed well despite all the demoralising incidents.

Our Team needs US now!

BLAME KHATMAL BUT SUPPORT YOUR TEAM!

Its Not The Players, Its The Boards Stupid !


Since the arrival of 2010, Pakistan’s hockey and cricket teams have been sliding down a string of defeats. Our Cricket team’s Tour of Australia and our Hockey Team’s performance in the Hockey World Cup, both were indeed disasters. Not only did the shock the nation but crushed their hopes.We must wake up to the fact that there are many factors that contribute to the performances of our teams other than the players. Alot of debate has been going on to determine the reasons for such defeats and most of the time, the players of both teams are blamed and held more responsible than the the Boards who have contributed much to the failure than the players, PHF and PCB.

The PCB has recently stinged the major players of the Cricket Team with bans and fines as ‘punishments’ for the defeats on the Tour of Australia and PHF has sacked the management of the hockey team with the entire Hockey Team tendering their reisgnations after their performance at the World Cup.

While one already knows the situation and state of PCB currently, it is no surprise that PHF is also in a reflecting condition of the cricket board. Qasim Zia, President of the PHF was appointed at this position by the PM through a usual case of bringing relatives and politics in the stream of sports. Asif Bajwa, the Secretary of the Pakistan Hockey Federation, is highly reputed to have come into PHF through his links with an MNA from Sialkot of the ruling party. Bajwa seems to lack the vision to purge the national sport of the country out of its current decline and so far, nothing remarkable from his side has emerged to revive hockey except rumours of his ill-management. It is evident that the state of inertia still persisted in our hockey after the elevation of both Zia and Bajwa to these posts, it is also quite evident that they lack direction, skills and leadership qualities to head the PHF. and should have long resigned after the failures of our Hockey Team.

Shahid Ali Khan, a former Olympian and though a hard-working coach of our team was previously a goal-keeper which is quite a restricted role in the game of hockey. Mr.Khan can not be blamed for a goal-keeper can not have the acumen to coach and that too when the state of the team is already deplorable. Can we expect Salman Akbar, our current goal-keeper to coach the future hockey team of Pakistan? Certainly not.

Our Hockey Players, many of who were playing for a long time, were also decided to be awarded the Central Contracts THIS year, and to get it straight, no player plays to his full potential without the assurance of money to be granted to him to support himself and the deserved respect.

Coming to our cricket board and its famed management that has no such qualifications to be in the management of a sport that is the heart-beat of its nation. The PCB Chairman, Ejaz Butt who played 8 tests in his time from 1959 to 1962 was appointed as the Chairman by President Asif Ali Zardari who is the Patron of Chief of our cricket board [Pakistan is the only country where the President is the Chief of a sports board] on account of his relations with Defence Minister, Ahmed Mukhtar. Butt is neither efficient nor is he capable of running PCB. He seems to have absolutely no knowledge about the game and how to handle the players and the management itself is maladroit.

People like Tauqeer Dar and Abdul Qadir are running private academies for the game of hockey and cricket respectively.
Dar who hails from a family of fine hockey players runs his own ‘Dar Hockey Academy’ in Lahore where any youth can join free of cost and he provides them with all the hockey equipment himself. Coaches are always there to instruct the boys.
Last year, Pakistan’s U1-9 Hockey Team won a Cup of a mega tournament and that team consisted of players who were part of Tauqeer Dar’s academy.

Abdul Qadir also runs his own academy for cricket for youngsters and is a strong critic of those who run the PCB currently.

Both Abdul Qadir and Tauqeer Dar are doing more than just a commendable job for the future of cricket and the latter for the revival of hockey and in producing players that shall take the game to its glorious heights again but as long as the official boards of these games, PHF and PCB are run on the basis of nepotism and politics, the conditions of both hockey and cricket will remain stagnant and exacerbate because that is the result when players are mismanaged and handled by people who lack in skills and knowledge.

It should be realized by now, that to save sports in Pakistan, politics shall be thrown out of it and each appointment should be on the basis of merit.

Hafsa Khawaja

PCB Shifting Blame To Save Face?


After Pakistan Cricket Team’s Tour of Australia which began this year and was indeed a debacle, an inquiry was ordered into the causes of the defeats on Tour of Australia which was lead by a committee and sent a number of punishments for certain players to the PCB.
Yesterday, they accepted the those punishments :
*One year ban on Shoaib Malik and Rana Naveed and a 2 Million fine on both of them for unacceptable behaviour.
*LIFE BAN on Muhammad Yousaf and Younis Khan for their infighting that affected the team [according to the PCB].
* Fine of 2 million on the Akmal brothers for indiscipline.
*Fine of 3 million on Shahid Afridi dor the ball-tampering incident.

I fail to understand the reason, that where was the PCB Management when the Tour was ON-GOING and so much was brewing in the team? They were supposed to control and warn the players right on spot if they were getting out of hand. Why were the Akmal brothers and Shoaib and Rana not sent back from the Tour if they were indeed involved in behaviours that were unacceptable? If so was the case with Shoaib Malik, why was he made the Captain of the one T20 Match against Australia?
Younis Khan was not even part of squad that were beaten brutally by the Australian Team. Why has such a harsh ban been imposed on him?

The reason that the PCB stated for the life ban on Younis and Yousaf is their infighting that affected the team, if such is the basis of imposing a life ban, then what about the rivalry and disputes between Waqar Younis and Wasim Akram and Imran Khan and Miandad in their times?

Maybe because Yawar Saeed, with whom Younis had problems as a manager in his stint as the Captain, was part of the Inquiry Committee and wanted to settle personal scores?

Shahid Afridi was already given a Two T20 Match Ban by the ICC for the ball-biting incident as a punishment for ball-tampering and again the people in PCB and the Standing Committee on Sports in the NA demanded more punishment for him, when it is already known that a man can not be twice punished.

Jamshed Dasti, the Chairman of the Standing Committee on Sports in the NAis a staunch critic of the PCB Chairman, Ejaz Butt whom he considers to be inept. This is equivalent to the pot calling the kettle black. Dasti himself was reputed to be a drug-seller and has no qualifications that make him worthy of his current position like Butt, both were made merely on the basis of nepotism and ‘links’ to the Presidency.
The entire PCB is marred with nepotism, maladroitness and failure. It is not that the Board is brimming with people of noble intentions and great adeptness.
Such bans have only been imposed by the PCB only to save their own face [and that too only a month before the T20 World Cup starting on this 30th of April] and have shifted the debris of the blame on the players, they should have long resigned after the Tour of Australia and it is time that they accept their inefficiency and go back to their homes.

Hafsa Khawaja