Cricket fans in the Walled City, Gulshan-i- Ravi and Johar Town were left devastated by the Cable Operators Association (CAP) strike as many missed watching the final pool match between Pakistan and Australia on Saturday.
Large numbers of cricket enthusiasts thronged at coffee shops and sat in groups listening to a radio commentary on the match after cable channels refused to air the match. Only a handful of cafes and restaurants had made arrangements to show the match and hundreds of people gathered at the shops cheering on the Pakistani cricket team in, what many fans said was one of the most exciting matches in the ongoing World Cup.
The Cable Operators Association (CAP) strike began at noon on Saturday and was set to last for 24hours. The strike is meant to protest the raids carried out by Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra).
Most restaurants could not get coverage of the match, due to disabled cable connections but several coffee shops had arranged for alternative channels to screen the match. Hotel One, Gloria Jeans, Jammin’ Java café, Dunkin Donuts, Coffee, Tea and Company and Espresso Café all managed to screen coverage of the match and attracted large crowds.
Hotel One near Hussain Chowk had also sported an outdoor screen telecasting the match; dozens of cricket fans gathered around the screen to watch the live telecast. Cricket fan, Fawad said “It is a lot more fun to watch a match when you have so many other fans around you. We were all backing the team and our team didn’t disappoint us.”
Hotel One manager Hassan Ahmad said “we have been lucky to receive the entirecoverage. People have been gathering here since 2pm and everything else seems to have come to a standstill.” Ahmed said “The strike has been a disaster in residential areas but I’m glad that the CAP seem to have spared some commercial zones.”
Residential areas received most of the coverage of the South Africa vs Bangladesh pool match.
Young cricket fans, who planned to enjoy the match on the weekend were sorely disappointed. “In some ways it ended up being a blessing in disguise. We ended up watching the match with dozens of people in a café so it was a lot more fun,” said ten-year-old Musa. “My family and I were trying to get coverage all day until we decided to drive around looking for a place that was broadcasting the channel,” he said. Nine-year-old Hanan Ahmed said “I’ve been trying to get the coverage all day and my friends were texting me the details of what was going on from a café.”
A handful of universities too managed to access high-speed internet feeds to connect to a television and broadcast the match.
Students staying in hostels watched the final match through a live stream, while the cafeteria was also full of cheering crowds. Lahore University of Management Sciences (Lums) student Mozzam said “we had distorted screen resolution at the cafeteria so we decided to watch the match in my room. We had feared being disappointed by the team not the cable channels. The team delivered and they didn’t.”
Cricket fans said that the fact that Pakistan won comfortably was the only thing that allowed them to overlook the ‘deplorable’ attitude of the CAP.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 20th, 2011.
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