Cricket is often referred to as ‘the gentlemen’s game’ with the inference being that those who play it are themselves gentlemen. The game in Pakistan has in recent years been marred by a range of ungentlemanly incidents. Bribery and corruption are rife; cricketers have gone to foreign jails convicted of attempting to fix matches. One of our leading cricketers became a renowned philanthropist establishing a respected cancer hospital and then Imran Khan moved into politics. The early years were slow, but gradually Mr Khan and the party he leads the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) became a force in the land. As Mr Khan advanced politically so whatever gentlemanly patina there was wore away, until today when we see a man who is in danger of becoming something of a national disgrace.
Remarks made by Mr Khan at a recent PTI meeting were recorded and have surfaced on social media. To say they are unedifying is a considerable understatement. The foreign cricketers who came to Pakistan were mocked by Mr Khan and insulted in a way that is most un-Pakistani when compared to the way guests are usually received and hosted. Furthermore, Mr Khan has a poor grasp of geography as demonstrated by placing one of the foreign guest players in Africa rather than the West Indies, St Lucia to be precise. A player who, moreover, is a two-times T20 winning captain for the West Indies.
Some foreign players backed out of the event citing security concerns, as is their right. All the more reason to honour and respect those that did come to Pakistan to play cricket. They may have been unfamiliar names to local fans but they quickly won hearts on and off the pitch. To hear them badmouthed by Mr Khan is shameful. Whilst he is entitled to his opinion the same as everybody else he is also a public figure and as such needs to have a care when it comes to what he says on and off the record. There will be no apology from Mr Khan and he continues to wander his Bani Gala estate looking for lost balls.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 9th, 2017.
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