Pakistan has reportedly begun a low key diplomatic bid to persuade officials in the UK that the match-fixing drama has been exaggerated. Certainly there is some truth in this. The capacity of the British tabloid press to blow matters out of all proportion is well established. So is its tendency to stoop towards racism and other kinds of bias. But there is a need for caution. Pakistan must not risk looking either too foolish or appearing to seek any kind of cover-up. At stake is the future of our cricket and our standing in the sporting world. We need to demonstrate we are a mature nation, capable and willing to defend our players — but at the same time determined to deal bravely with the possibility that there has been some wrongdoing and that punishment may need to be meted out. Any attempt at a cover-up would only cause greater harm and further tarnish the image of our team. While we all look up to our heroes, it is necessary from time to time to open minds and to look at things from different perspectives. The consistent failure to do so, since the 1990s, may have led us straight into the embarrassing quandary we now face. Past reluctance to tackle match-fixing and the spot-fixing that is so much a part of our domestic cricket scene has contributed to the current events.
Some of the grounds being prepared as a means to let Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Aamir off the hook seem rather shaky. The talk of an ‘Indian’ connection, on the basis of the fact that the man who posed as the match fixer is related to a national from that country through his sister and the bookie, Mazhar Majeed, married to one, is unconvincing. Such marriages are hardly uncommon — and it seems unlikely they were used to trap the Pakistanis. We must avoid jumping to grab shadows and instead see how the interests of our country can be best served. Striving to seek the truth — while ensuring no Pakistani is victimised — may be the best way forward and offer the greatest hope of saving lost honour.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 6th, 2010.