Ghairat Brigade watch out, there is a new hero in town and his name is Talat Hussain. In an article for Dawn, Talat attempts to re-write the history of the historic match at Mohali by painting an ugly picture of India and smearing our own boys in the process.
According to the Dawn reporter,
It was almost as if the Mohali match had given the whole of India a season ticket to trash Pakistan. Cricket appeared to be an instrument to unleash collective contempt. This Mohali experience contrasts sharply with the popular narrative about the growing peace constituency in India that wants to treat Pakistan with respect and believes in the principle of parity of nations. At a critical time when convincing messages of brotherhood could have been packaged with courtesy and sent across the borders to Pakistan with love, the mail received from India contained little other than hate.
Reading these words, I was stunned. Perhaps Talat Hussain watched a different match that I did. The match that I watched was respectful. It was friendly. And for a few days, we were able to forget our differences of the past and focus on the game we all love.
Talat Hussain, on the other hand, appears to have gone searching for any small example of negative attitudes like a rat scouring the alleys for some moldy crumbs while overlooking the positive facts about the match.
- Indians and Pakistanis sat together and watched the match – many had the flags of both countries painted on their faces.
- India gave lots of last minute visas to Pakistanis.
- The semi-final took place in an atmosphere of friendly rivalry and respectful behaviour.
- The political leadership of both sides watched the match together and talked about pressing issues for both nations.
- There were no riots or burning of effigies when one side lost the match.
For the fans in attendance, and for the millions with their eyes glued to television screens, the epic battle between the two giants was not one of petty insults, harassment, or anti-Pakistan hysteria. It was one of friendly competition and the hope of a new beginning.
Sadly, conjuring this fictitious atmosphere of ‘anti-Pakistan hysteria’ was not enough for Talat who then proceeded to insult our own team and the entire nation in the process.
Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani too wanted to fete the team for having reached the semi-final. Suddenly failure to make it to the finals has become a point of great pride, a matter of honour rather than cause for reflection and course correction.
But this is not surprising. We have consistently rewarded incompetence. We have a culture of complacency that simply lowers the bar of achievement instead of raising the game to the level where the best compete and win.
The fact is, our team was only defeated by one other team. And that team took home the trophy. Our boys played hard and they played well. They beat international expectations and proved once again that Pakistan fields a world class team. More importantly, though, Afridi handled what was a crushing loss with dignity, poise, and class. Something sorely lacking in Talat Hussain’s spoiled rantings.
Talat Hussain says “We know media nationalism can hijack objectivity. It can lead to distortions. It can generate propaganda. This happens in Pakistan all the time.” Yes, this is a well known problem. But that doesn’t justify Talat Hussain taking part either. 170 million Pakistanis would rather have defeated India at Mohali. But, even in this minor defeat, these same 170 million can hold their heads high after a game well played and a defeat handled with grace and dignity. We invite Talat Hussain to join us in doing the same.