The bad... and some good

Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdulaziz al-Shaikh, while delivering the Haj sermon on Wednesday, said that some people were trying to enforce their own agenda through violence and giving Islam a bad name. “Daesh (ISIS) is pursuing a path meant for destruction of the Muslim ummah. It has not spared even mosques and peaceful citizens. They are disfiguring the image of Islam,” said the Grand Mufti.

It is good to see that even a hardliner Islamic country like the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is taking a strong position against ISIS but as a Pakistani citizen, one wonders if the Saudis could have been so thoughtful when it came to funding madrassas in my country, which have churned out not just jihadis but hardcore religious extremists. In their sectarian wars, they have made my country a pawn and we, the people of Pakistan, are bearing the brunt. ISIS is not the only group that has attacked mosques and peaceful citizens. The Taliban have done the same. They have not even spared innocent children; the APS attack in Peshawar is still fresh in our minds. The Taliban may be a regional problem for some, unlike ISIS that has become a global phenomenon, but the Taliban and their ilk are as bad as the ISIS. It would have been great to hear the Grand Mufti condemn all terrorists, including the Taliban. We cannot differentiate between terrorists and/or murderers just because of our vested interests.

On another note, there is some good news regarding cricket. As a cricket enthusiast and as a Pakistani cricket fan, the launch of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) is great news. The tournament will be held in the UAE next February. It is not being held in Pakistan due to security issues, as it would have been nearly impossible to get renowned international players to be part of the PSL if it was being held here. Our cricketers have not been part of the Indian Premier League (IPL) since the Mumbai terror attacks.

After the terrorist attack on the visiting Sri Lankan cricket team in 2009, international cricket stopped in our country until this year when Zimbabwe finally agreed to play in Pakistan. The Gaddafi Stadium was packed during the entire Zimbabwe series. Pakistani fans came out in full force to support their own country as well as Zimbabwe as a gesture of their gratitude. Now that the PSL has been launched, it will bring more excitement for Pakistani cricket fans. As Ahmer Naqvi wrote recently: “The [T20] format found a natural home in street cricket and the culture of night matches during Ramzan, and these were hugely popular in Pakistan’s cities from the ‘70s onwards, and later caught the imagination of the rural population too. In a way, Pakistan had a T20 culture at least 30 years before the format was invented. The fact, then, that the country has still not had a proper international-class tournament since is nothing less than a tragedy.”

The PSL is a great Eid gift for millions of Pakistani cricket fans. Here is to hoping that we can one day bring the PSL to our own cricket grounds back home.

(Originally published in Mid-Day)


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