Shahid Afridi: Our true all-rounder
The one word that I would use to describe Shahid Afridi is ‘exasperating’.
His tendency to throw away his wicket at a rush-of-blood moment has many Pakistani cricket fans, including myself, clutching our heads in our hands. He has also displayed this spirit off the field, with frequent retirement announcements and press comments that have jeopardised his captaincy. And of course, who can forget the ball biting and the dancing on the pitch incidents?
Despite all this, every so often Shahid Afridi pulls off a stunt that leaves us all in awe and simply inspired.
His latest decision to contribute towards the attempt to ‘smash’ polio out of Pakistan is noble, courageous and has left me saying ‘respect, deep respect!’
By helping to eradicate polio one can only hope that the children of Pakistan will have a chance of a brighter and fuller future.
Let us not forget that today there are only three countries in the world where polio remains endemic; Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Polio is a disease that can cause paralyses in a matter of hours and if left untreated, it can be fatal even.
Afridi's act is a courageous because by doing this he has chosen to go head-to-head against the Taliban and al Qaeda militants who infest the north western borders of Pakistan. These militants have banned polio vaccinations from the region as they see it as a western conspiracy against Muslims. By doing so these groups have put nearly a quarter of a million Pakistani children at risk.
In today’s Pakistan, which is plagued by bad governance, widespread corruption, target killings and unchecked militancy, it is heartening to see a public figure stepping up to his social responsibility.
Shahid Afridi is a true Pakistani, who has on many occasions, done Pakistan proud and continues to do more.
This only goes to show that a person does not necessarily need to be politicised or take laws in their own hands or shed blood to do well for his or her country. If one wishes to serve humanity, one can do so by contributing towards a cause which has a large impact on those who are helpless.
We have great examples of admirable men and women such as Dr Ruth Pfau, Begum Rana Liaquat Ali Khan, Bilquis Edhi, Maulana Abdul Sattar Edhi, Imran Khan and Shahzad Roy, amongst others, who have served and continue to serve the people of Pakistan. They are actively raising awareness related to issues which affect people on a daily basis.
Would it not be heartening to see more high-profile men and women step up and raise their voices against the social deterioration that we face today?
Yes, I do emphasise the role of high profile individuals in fronting any such cause simply because of the mileage and the instant impact it can have on all those who can relate to them. We all know that celebrities have a certain influence on people and that most people consider them as role models. In effect, those who admire Shahid Afridi, for instance, are probably already thinking of joining him for the cause he has decided to support.
We have examples of people already doing this within Pakistan and on the global front, for example Steve Waugh’s charity work in India, Bob Geldof’s work against famine in Africa and John Lennon’s anti-war advertisements in New York.
But of course, this in no way diminishes the responsibility that every Pakistani has. I will leave you with the words of an American but it certainly is something we Pakistanis would do well to reflect on:
"Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.” John F Kennedy, 35th President of the United States of America.