Pakistan Loses A Match, Wins Rare Unity

Mosques, churches, Sikh gurdwaras and Hindu temples were united in special prayers for the national team. Party flags disappeared in favor of the national flag, and Pakistanis learned a valuable lesson: an over-politicized nation has better things to do than watch boring politicians shouting on equally boring talk shows.

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PAKISTAN LOSES A MATCH, WINS RARE UNITY

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by Ahmed Quraishi

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Many Pakistanis were struck by the scenes they saw on the streets of Islamabad and Rawalpindi today: smiling shopkeepers, courteous car drivers and jolly passersby. The scenes were almost similar in Pakistani cities like Peshawar, Quetta, Karachi and Azad Kashmir capital Muzaffarabad. Teenagers painted their cheeks in the colors of the Green and the Crescent, and shops and offices displayed homemade and professional banners in support of the national team. Muslim,Christian,Sikh andHindu places of worship acrossPakistanwere on the same page today. A nation demoralized by political and economic mess and beset by the disaster of fighting someone else’s failed war was suddenly transformed in the days leading up to today’s match.

Pakistani cricket team lost the match in the 2011 World Cup semifinal against India on Indian home turf. The defeat was minor: 29 runs short of victory. It seemed like a win that turned into defeat toward the end.

But more important than anything else, a nation divided by petty politics was united in a way not seen in a long time. It appeared Pakistanis wanted an excuse to show unity.


Instead of the flags of the failed political parties which dominate the landscape, this was a day for the Pakistani flag, which was seen in abundance in all the major cities and towns.

For a change, political talk shows that have nothing to offer except screaming, unimaginative and divisive politicians, took a backseat. An over-politicized nation got a break from politics and focused on other pursuits that make life beautiful.

Pakistanis were hurting after the defeat in front of the Indian team, make no mistake about that.

This is no ordinary sporting event. See the Indian reactions that preceded the match. A parrot owned by a roadside Indian fortune teller was killed by Hindu extremists for predicting a Pakistani win. Also, Indian hackers attacked Pakistani websites that predicted an Indian defeat.  The worst thing to happen in Pakistan in the run up to the match was comments similar to what a Facebook user wrote on the wall of a Pakistani group for cricket fans after end of the match: “I still love my team … and I still hate END-ia!”

But generally Pakistanis did not resort to exaggerated expressions of rivalry, as in the Indian cases of the murdered parrot and the hacking of Pakistani sports websites.

For Pakistanis, it’s tough losing a match against India. Forget all the niceties about this being ‘just a game’. There is a reason why sporting events between Pakistan and India are so charged. It’s a war without bullets. Pakistanis can’t forget that India is the country that invaded Pakistan without provocation in 1971 and cut it in two. India dragged the region into a nuclear arms race. And India is yet to stop indirect claims to Pakistani territory. Lastly, the Indians are using the foreign-occupied territory of Afghanistan to arm and send terrorists into Pakistan and kill Pakistanis.

So, for Pakistan, the winner of the 1992 World Cup, it’s difficult to be defeated in the 2011 semifinal in front of India when victory was so close.

But theirs is a team that did reach the semifinal against great odds. And, more importantly, Pakistanis displayed unity despite a failed and divisive political culture, and despite foreign intervention by governments that encourage dividing Pakistanis between ‘liberals vs. extremists’ and ‘secular vs. Islamists’ in order to perpetuate a failed war in Afghanistan.

This match has shown that if we stop fighting other people’s wars and stop letting politics dominate everything, then we can recreate Pakistan’s golden age of the mid twentieth century, when Pakistan made impressive strides in culture, sports and economy.

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Published in: on 31/03/2011 at 8:05 pm  Comments (12)  
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12 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. The above article has been accomodated while Dr.. Nayyar edited my comment which is a clear case of misuse of his right to change the contents of the readers comments .If it happend again, I will bring it in the notice of World Press .

  2. Ahh… we all are sad on the deafeat but….. still we love our team… 🙂 specially Afridi we are proud of u ,u are the hero of our nation DNt say sorry u have taken our team to its peak , u have gave us a hope by reaching to semi’z and bringing that beauty back to cricket..!! u made the team united,u are the best the whole nation is with yew…… geo PAKISTAN …….
    “TUM JEETO YA HAROO SUNOOOO,,, HUME TUM SE PAYAR HAI”
    ……….PAKISTAN XINDA bad……..

    Media has created so much hype… people were like that ” they have already won”…… this attitude was totally wrong i condem… but what can b done now .. now its media’s responsibility to support our team…and encourage them because they deserve the encouragement!! we love u Pakistani team!!

  3. Our team really need our encouragment and support.No matter we all are very sad on this defeat especially from india. But if you see the other end of the picture, from how long India is preparing there team for world cup they have IPL matches, twenty twenty series,cricket tours etc. Wherease what Pakistani Cricket board is doing with there players, how much they prepare there team. We should stop reacting negatively.Encourage Afridi for his positive attitude towards the team unity and efforts.As a nation we have to be positive. No doubt our team played not that well in semi final which we all are expecting from them.But here we have to learn from our mistakes and give them warm WELCOME.

  4. “I’m sorry to my nation” (says Shahid Afridi).
    Why sorry?
    U GAVE US A HOPE BY REACHING SEMIFINAL & BRINGING THAT BEAUTY BACK TO YOUR NATION.
    Why sorry?
    YOU BUILT THE SEPARATED AND DISORIENTED PLAYERS INTO A TEAM.
    Why sorry?
    A 6TH RANKED TEAM BEATING AND COMPETING WITH WORLD’S TOP RATED TEAMS ON THEIR GROUNDS.
    Why sorry?
    IT WAS BECAUSE OF YOU THAT PAKISTAN NATIONAL ANTHEM WAS SUNG ON THE INDIAN GROUND.
    Why sorry?
    YOU RAISED PAKISTANI FLAG IN MOHALI.
    You should be proud that Allah Almighty through you and your team united the ethnically divided groups of Pathans, Punjabis, Sindhis, Muhajirs and the Bloch into one one nation of Pakistanis……Shahid dear, WE Pakistanis love you! You are our Hero. Hats off to you!

    • I am pleased that India won the game not because our team defeated Pakistan but due to the fact that secularism won over non secular forces of Pakistan.

      • Dr. AKT, I request u 2 restrict ur comments 2 da subject under discussion. I wonder over da patience this blog editor has, who accommodates ur frequent harangues against Pakistan & Islam. Claiming India as a secular state is like throwing dust in da eyes of all those non Hindu Indians who r slaughtered, like animals r cut into flesh in an abattoir. Pakistan has never pretended 2b a secular state. It’s an Islamic state & v r very proud of our Muslim identity. Side by side v r equally proud of being part of Pakistani nation irrespective of being a Muslim, Hindu, Christian, or Sikh which is why there were prayers 4 da success of Pakistani team in our mosques, gurdawaras, mandirs & churches. Had Pakistani team won da semifinal against India, would it hve meant da success of religion over secularism???? A game is a game, any team could win. I ask of u DR. AKT, come out of this Islamophobia. Its neither gud 4 u, nor 4 India.

  5. It was amazing to note that on one hand a muslim country is being crushed while on the other hand the entire Islamic Pakistan was watching cricket on TV.

  6. The Pakistani nation should whole heartedly welcome back, the Green Shirts. They played marvelously and uncompromisingly well and made their best efforts to keep the flag of Pakistan high. The team gave toughest time to everyone during side matches. Loosing and winning is part of the game.

  7. Instead of paying lip service to Pakistan as a nation, Pakistanis should say “Pakistan Zindabad” from core of their heart, commemorating with the very spirit of Long live Pakistan..

  8. Mr. Wasi , I know that people like you can not understand the meaning of secularism and its advantages .India has never been a Hindu state even before the entry of invaders .Our religious identity has restricted to the name of individuals and with the name of the state . The divissive forces came here as invaders and they still busy to devide it …….?

    Darde dil darde jigar dil may jagaya aapne .
    pahle to mai Bharat tha Hindustan banaya aapne .
    Darde dil …..
    Pahle to mai India tha Israeil banaya aapne .
    Darde dil darde jigar dil may jagaya aapne .

    Muslim identity and Shariyah aapko Mubarak ho…..

    U.S is ready to pay the blood money for all Islamic fanatics .

    • @Tewari,
      GET A LIFE and Mind the topic of the blog…!!
      her jaga dhol bajane pohnch aatay ho.. FAARIGH!!!

  9. @Blog!!
    What memories!! ❤
    I want to experience and live that spirit over and over again..
    Winning is not just about winning a match (or may be for some peple it is) but unity since that day is our real victory Masha Allah…. !!!


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