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بدھ، 1 ستمبر، 2010

Pakistan’s sticky wicket


Muhammad Asim
Not again! As if there were already not enough troubles in the country, what with the floods and savage lynching of two brothers in Sialkot, we get the cricket too. An investigation by The News of the World paper alleges that it paid £150,000 to a middle man, Mazhar Majeed, for arranging to ‘fix’ a game. Majeed also reportedly boasted that he has ten players on his books, saying that match fixing had been going with this group for two and half years. Majeed was subsequently arrested and then bailed by the police, with several Pakistani players also being questioned. Searches were done in the rooms of some of the players who were also interviewed, resulting in the confiscation of cash and cell phones.
Needless to say the news has been met with widespread disbelief and condemnation both from Pakistanis home and abroad as well as the international community. Even though nobody has been charged with a crime and the allegations remain just that, everyone is feeling a sense of déjà vu. Allegations of bribery, corruption and match fixing have dogged the national side for years. Numerous figures in the world of cricket called for life bans to be handed down to individuals in the latest scandal who are found guilty, yet what will this achieve? Previous suspensions, investigations and bans have failed to purge sleaze and dishonesty from Pakistan’s game.
It is all well and good to pontificate about how dishonest players have tarnished the image of the country and thus call for harsh penalties, but surely we should have realised by now the problem is deeper than a few bad apples in a national sports team. Corruption is endemic in Pakistan as a nation, why should the cricketers be singled out for particular blame? Majeed, the alleged middle-man in this whole affair, said something rather interesting,
“These poor boys need to [do this]. They’re paid peanuts.”
Now before some amongst us call for the alleged culprits to be hung should not the wider circumstances be considered? Whilst not making what they allegedly did correct, desperate times can make people do desperate things. With poverty increasing its depressing grip on society, can we really expect that no one will succumb to conducting affairs in a dishonourable manner?
With a shot at the big time in the world of cricket and a limited playing career as a given, some players are bound to fall prey to the machinations of the gambling mafia. Even the wealth of those who are from a privileged background are not immune to the effects of wider society. Rameez Raja, the former captain, lamented the situation by saying,
“This is a product of a society that lacks leadership and a reflection of how Pakistani society is thinking in that if you want to get to the top you sidetrack the system. It is the mindset of making a quick buck rather than working for the long haul.”
How true. But how can it not be so when Pakistan itself is systematically geared towards rewarding criminals and corruption and those looking for a quick buck? In what world are we living when we expect the cricket team to be immune from the very sleaze that is rewarded not only by general society but by the political system of Pakistan?
When you have the whole sale legitimisation of criminals by laws such the NRO, presidential immunity and others why should the common man respect the law when the very custodians of justice are busy getting away with the worst of crimes? Our secular political system is one that rewards the worst dregs of society, so why should it not bring out the worst even in good people?
The Prophet Muhammad (saw) said in a part of a hadith, regarding pardoning a noble woman who stole, narrated in Sahih Muslim,
“…O people, those who have gone before you were destroyed, because if any one of high rank committed theft amongst them, they spared him; and if anyone of low rank committed theft, they inflicted the prescribed punishment upon him. By Allah, if Fatima, daughter of Muhammad, were to steal, I would have her hand cut off.”
Indeed this is what is happening in Pakistan. The absence of justice is not an aberration of the system of Pakistan, but rather a confirmation of it. The secular system in Pakistan, by allowing man to legislate whatever laws he likes, through mechanisms like presidential decrees and parliamentary majority has legitimised crime and made our rulers literally a law unto themselves. Secularism has allowed corrupt politicians to legitimise their own actions at the expense of justice.
This is why there are so many cases of corruption and injustice in Pakistan, the cricket team included, because people believe if they too do not cheat they will lose out. This is why no one pays attention to Prime Minister Gillani when he says of the cricket scandal, “It has caused us to bow our heads in shame.”
It is the pathetic response of the Pakistani state to the floods which makes us bow our heads in shame, along with the cynical attempt to deflect a nation’s anger away from the rulers on the serious issue of rescuing millions from disaster on to young men playing a game.
The only solution to this problem is to install a system that is not susceptible to manipulation by the whims of people, dictators or democrats, and that is the Islamic system as embodied by the Khilafah. Shariah law would ensure that criminals, of whatever status in society, are brought to justice by applying divinely prescribed punishments that cannot be altered by rulers or ‘elected’ representatives to suit their personal and political needs.
Once individuals see that even the powerful are subject to the same punishments as they are and the justice being delivered is based upon the guidance of Allah (swt), corruption will inevitably recede in society.

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