Seeking forgiveness is the first crucial step on the road to redemption. For disgraced cricketer Salman Butt, even that is a bridge too far. Upon his return to Pakistan after serving out a jail term in the UK for his involvement in the spot-fixing scandal, the former captain continued to plead his innocence. He is fooling no one. Butt was caught with large amounts of cash that he claimed were given to him for attending an ice-cream shop opening but included marked notes that had been given to bookie Mazhar Majeed by The News of the World’s undercover journalist. Phone records also showed that he had been in frequent contact with the bookie. At this point, Butt’s entreaties of innocence aren’t going to change anyone’s mind but they will confirm that he is essentially a coward unable to admit that he betrayed his profession and let the country down.
At the same time, as Butt returns home, another Pakistani cricketer, Danish Kaneria, has been banned from county cricket for life by the England and Wales Cricket Board for his role in spot-fixing at Essex. The two incidents tell us a lot about Pakistan cricket and how it has reached a point where cheating seems almost endemic. Despite the evidence against them, both are continuing to plead their innocence. One reason they may be doing so is that this is a tactic, which served Pakistani cricketers well in the 1990s. For all the allegations of match-fixing swirling around the team back then, no one, including judges, was willing to hold our cricketing superstars accountable.
In a way, Butt’s attitude perfectly sums up the way our elites react when confronted with their wrongdoings. They are either unwilling to accept their mistakes or are unrepentant about them. From corrupt politicians who use the everyone-is-doing-it excuse to venal military dictators who continue to defend their lawlessness as necessary, Pakistan has no shortage of people for whom ‘sorry’ is a dirty word. Salman Butt is only the latest addition to a very long list.
Published in The Express Tribune, 25th, 2012.
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