Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Pakistan's Cricketing Woes.

Cricket is a passion in Pakistan, a country devoid of much attention, raked with violence and the politics of division, this crazy game brings together people from the street to the mansion, from the mosque to the government office. The performance of the national team at the recent World T20 was perhaps steeped in a self destruct attitude to the extent that even the lack of imaginative captaincy and the failures of supposed talent seemed dwarfed by events. Pakistan did not lose its matches, it surrendered them unashamedly.

When T 20 cricket emerged on the world scene everyone felt the format of the T20 game suited the swashbuckling style of the likes of Shahid Afridi, Aamir Nazir, Umar Akmal et al. For a brief moment in time it seemed to be the case as Pakistan did win the World T 20 cup, (once) and since then seems to have frozen its talent and skill into a state of comatose that escapes reason. The recent showing at the World T20 Cup in India highlighted shortcomings which one would expect from a schoolboys team.

In so far as Shahid Afridi failed in his captaincy with the lack of imagination, inability to read the conditions of play and more importantly to make on field decisions to adjust to the situation, the failures of the team run deeper. There were flashes of brilliance, almost as if these individual performances were out of the script of collective failure. The lack of leadership was compounded by Afridi's own failures which seem to have taken chronic proportions. Ironically we keep hoping this one time hero will somehow perform and then everything will be fine. Yes he somehow manages that one in ten noteworthy performances to keep our fragile hopes alive.

The presence of players like Khalid Latif in the team begs the question "What were the selectors thinking? What did he ever achieve in this format?" More interestingly as shown by teams like Bangladesh and Afghanistan that the difference was in how well the team fought. Indeed their results may not have been better than Pakistan's but there was not doubt that as a team the collective effort was always present. Why was not Fahad Alam in the team, known for his fighting spirit and certainly a better record that Khalid Latif. Changes to the batting order were without a plan and at most times the change was really a gamble that failed.

On the bowling side only Mohammed Amir showed not only his will to fight but his ability to bowl to a plan and always seek to achieve a result. When other bowlers were lost in the woods and getting smashed around the captain was noticeably absent in giving them advice and calming their nerves.
The cocktail of failure was there for the making with the coach, Waqar Yunus absent in guiding the players to perform with effort, a captain who would not have listened to anyone and a bunch of players who are supposedly talented but on the day left the talent in their kit bags.

Some would argue that the whole cricket set up in Pakistan needs an overhaul. As Waqar Yunus himself pointed out that cosmetic changes will not help, yes indeed the problems run deep. They involve selection, captaincy and the nurturing of talent and providing an spirit of success that just simply is not there. The summer tour to England is the right platform to bring the changes for the future even it may mean the selected teams will be lacking the old look and the old faces, this is a rebuilding phase and it should be based on merit and not politics of board rooms and an organisation run by many who never held a cricket bat.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

The Face of Terror

This evening in the heart of Pakistan, the city of Lahore, a man walked into a children’s park, which was packed with kids and families, and decided to blow himself up. As of this writing 65 women and children have been accounted as dead and over 300 injured.  Within hours of the terror attack the Pakistan Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack. The horrifying nature of this insane act aside, the fact that a religious party can even claim such an attack as theirs shows the demented and misguided nature of these religious extremists. Indeed to say they represent the any face of Islam would be totally wrong. This is not the religion I practice and nowhere in the Quran does it allow the taking of life in such a manner.

The Holy Quran is very clear on this matter:

We ordained for the Children of Israel that if any one slew a person - unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land - it would be as if he slew the whole people: and if any one saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people. Then although there came to them Our messengers with clear signs, yet, even after that, many of them continued to commit excesses in the land.” (Qur’an, 5:32)

(For the unacquainted audience the reference ‘unless it be for murder’ means when a murdered is handed out capital punishment and ‘spreading mischief’ refers to idolatry and warring against the State (as convicted) and in a sense these religious terrorists are violating this injunction of the Quran too.)

Within Pakistan the malaise is so deep that no one will speak up against the terror of these self appointed apostles of our religion. Taliban and its followers are not Muslims and anyone who can even try and justify such a heinous crime should be ashamed of himself or herself. Some have pointed out that a large number of the people in the park where the attack occurred were Christians enjoying the Easter break. That does not justify the act of terror; lest we forget that Christians who are Pakistani’s are first and foremost Pakistanis too.

After the terror attack on the Army school in Peshawar two years back there was no doubt in the mind of our people that the religious extremists had gone too far. This attack also targeted against children drives that very point home again. More than ever before this calls for national unity not only to condemn the act but to take effective steps against the Taliban and all such radical groups who have hijacked our religion and given us a bad name.

It time to say ENOUGH, its time to launch a national campaign to bring tolerance into the fabric of our country, its time to make a difference to stop these senseless acts of violence. The crime of keeping quiet will only mean that we have all collectively given up caring. Failure to do anything about this will result in a surrender of our country to these narrow minded and mostly misguided people. 

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Trump: Some Historical lessons.

When Donald Trump announced his decision to make a bid for the Republican nomination for the Presidential race, many of us choked on our dinner and said, "He did what?" The thought of a man who had driven a couple of companies bankrupt, been crude about women, and essential portrayed himself as the epitome of greed and avarice being taken seriously was a remote possibility. Even the Republican Party vanguard considered this billionaire upstart as nothing but an irritation. As the Trump message picked supported with the extreme, mostly white, working class and the young Republican voters, his bid for the nomination became not only real but as it has now emerged he is most likely going to be the nominee of a party he has taken over through nothing short of a hostile raid.

The joke that Trump is also carries with it now the need to seriously look at the danger of the man and most of all the historical lessons we seem to forget in even considering him as a contender for the White House. There is no denying that Trump has a fascist flair to him; extolling supporters to 'punch' a protester at his rally. He has a bent of mind that is racist, (Muslims not welcome in America and Mexicans to be walled out), and a fascist tendency to blame others for the ills of America. His solutions to every problem is radical, lacking intellectual thought and most of all based on a egocentric belief that only he can fix things.

As the Trump bandwagon has gained momentum there are many of the Republican Party who will hop on to it, and eventually even the vanguard may realise that they are better off backing the man they cannot depose. While this may sound like an endorsement of the Trump dictate, the truth is that it highlights a schism which is a moral one. Trump extolls his audience to violence with carefully planted words and innuendos, his recent one being if he loses the nomination then there will be 'riots'. Most of all he has shown a unique trait of going after his most vocal critics with a pettiness that is not becoming of a public figure. He has be particularly harsh on Megan kelly of Fox News and David Brooks of the New York Times, both of whom are established journalists.

History teaches us that even Hitler was elected and as his bandwagon gained momentum many sane thinking men joined it not because they may have believed in Hitlers racist views but because they felt they could temper the message from the 'inside'. History tells us that this did not work. Stalin and Hitler and many other dictators showed an intolerance for being questioned by the press or by people who even dared to say that their views or policies were misplaced.

Hitler hated the Jews, Trump seems to hate the Muslims and wants to keep out the Mexicans. One forgets that Trump was fine accepting being paid by the Muslims for endorsing projects in the Muslim world with the Trump brand name. His solution for bringing back jobs to the US is at best emotional. The very electorate that endorses him also want the cheapest products at Wallmart, forgetting that if they want the price lower for a US produced item then it means lower wages. Thus the out sourcing of production has been to meet the very need of his backbone support to buy cheap! His stance on immigration is contradictory considering two of his wives (one of which is an ex wife) are immigrants; the pun being that perhaps he could not find an American woman who would accept his chauvinistic views so he had to import a woman.

On a serious note, Trump stands for everything that the vast majority of educated American abhor; racist, fascist, ego centric, sexist and enticing people to violence. He appeals to the anger of a segment of the population, who may count well in the Republican nomination race, but on the broader national platform will be a minority. Americans must stop and think if they want a petty minded ego maniac to be in the White House? A man who will divide rather than unite, a man who may isolate America from the rest of the world, a man who lack the finesse and manners that are essential for being the leader of the strongest nation in the world.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Dividing America: The Trump card.

Usually by this stage of the US nomination race it is clear who would be the front runner for the race in each party and by and large the race is down to two candidates for each of the party nominations. While the Democratic Party nomination race has crystallized to Hilary versus Sanders, the Republican Party on the other hand is down to Trump versus others. In truth the vanguard of the GOP are not amused by Donald Trump who in effect has done a hostile take over of the party. As amusing and entertaining Mr Trump has been thus far, many serious pundits know that when the final showdown happens for the Presidential campaign Trump may well lack the seriousness to beat Hilary Clinton or even Bernie Sanders.

To simply say Donald Trump is not Presidential material is political snobbery, but that aside there is no denying that he has attributes and a political stance that, on a serious note, makes one wonder how can he be taken seriously. He is not only a bundle of contradictions he also lack finesse and manners and, more recently, added a vulgarity that demeans the stature of a candidate for such an important office. There has been little to the man that indicates he can unite Americans having already dismembered the GOP. One could cynically claim that Mr Trump has been placed by the Democrats into the Republican party to destroy the roots of the GOP.

The big question is whether Mr Trump can pull himself out of the gutter of cheap insults, tantrums and fantasy proposals to really tackle the seriousness of the issues that a Presidential race will demand. The GOP stalwarts realise that this is precisely the Trump parade will fail and have encouraged Ted Cruz and Senator Rubio to remain in the race with the hope that if there is a deadlock of delegates then there may be chance to wrest back control of the GOP. Polls suggest that a Hilary-Trump show down will favour Hilary and the only GOP candidate, if polls are to be believed, who can derail Hilary Clinton will be Ted Cruz. Given rumps verbal diarrhea on the issue of immigration it is not surprising that the Hispanic vote will certainly not be in his bag.

The GOP also as a strategy has exhausted itself trying to weaken Trump and the division within the party cannot be healthy for the final race. Judging by the quality and content of the debates the Democrats have managed to show a more deeper understanding of both domestic and international issues, where as the Republican debates while passionate have degenerated to mudslinging and little in terms of solutions. Clearly the stark contrast between the Republican and Democrat race for the nomination must worry the GOP establishment. Irrespective of whether it will be Trump or Cruz in the Presidential race the GOP will face the challenge of changing the tone and texture of their message. The problem is that Trump is not a Republican party man and his gambit has been to appeal to the Republican voters ignoring the party politics. This is a division that is messy and begs the question whether these divisions can be healed to taken on Hilary or Sanders if Trump were to win the nomination.

Both Hilary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have had the luxury to debate the issues with intellectual depth and keeping their campaign clean of insults and personal attacks. In a sense they are talking now on a national platform while the GOP is still addressing their Republican vote bank only. For the GOP a Trump nomination would mean a deeper division not only in their party but also split the nation and the floating undecided vote may move to the Democrats. One thing is certain the times ahead are going to be very interesting.