Me, mine, and myselfby Nadim Jahangir
‘I AM not blaming Pakistan, I understand their sentiment but this is not intentional. There is no politics in it. It’s the situation that has compelled us not to tour Pakistan at this point of time,’ said the Bangladesh Cricket Board president, Nazmul Hasan, on December 31, 2012. The BCB president rounded up the reason why Bangladesh will not be able to visit Pakistan in two words — ‘security concern’. His predecessor, Mostafa Kamal, committed during a meeting of the International Cricket Council in October that Bangladesh would tour Pakistan and that the tour would be unconditional.
In Bangladesh, when someone becomes the head or the chief executive of an institution, s/he seems to believe that s/he owns the institution and thus has the right to unilaterally make decisions, which seems to have been the case with Mr. Kamal. His decision on Bangladesh’s visit was apparently unilateral and allegedly aimed at securing Pakistan’s support for his bid to become an ICC vice-president.
Not only did he claim that the Pakistan Cricket Board would ensure security, he also led a high-profile delegation to Pakistan, which was apparently convinced by the briefing from Pakistan’s security officials. However, the tour was eventually postponed when the Bangladesh High Court ordered the cricket board to defer the tour in view of security concerns.
Every day we see, hear and read about bomb blasts killing hundreds in Pakistan; the Pakistani government, it seems, cannot even guarantee safety and security for VIPs like governors, judges or members of parliament. People engaged in charitable work are not spared, either. Yet, the ex-president of the Bangladesh Cricket Board went ahead with the decision on the tour.
The Pakistan Cricket Board has threatened that Pakistani cricketers would not participate in the Bangladesh Premier League, if Tigers’ tour is called off. If the PCB does not send the players, it will cost the board and not the BPL. First of all, Pakistani players do not play in BPL for free; second, Pakistani players are not allowed to play in the Indian Premier League. Finance is very important to the players. If the Pakistani players are not allowed to play in the BPL, the players themselves will not agree to it. Already in the newspapers we have read reports of Pakistani players contacting with the BPL franchises and ensuring them that they will participate.
More to it, Abdur Razzaq, the Pakistani all-rounder, has already said that on January 4, he will come to Dhaka to assure the franchises that Pakistani players are interested to participate in the BPL. Some of the Pakistani players have long-term contracts and they are obliged to fulfill those contracts. Third, Pakistan’s star players Umar Gul, Shahid Afridi and Saeed Ajmal are among a host of others who have signed to play in next month’s Bangladesh Premier League, although the PCB has not yet given no objection certificates to its players to compete in the BPL.
Most importantly, Pakistani players are very much interested to play in BPL, and majority of these players have the commitments and engagements with different franchises, and the players want to continue with this relationship. Therefore, PCB will not take the risk to jeopardise the relationship with their players.
The BCB has taken the right decision. The ICC itself is not sending any international officials to Pakistan to adjudicate as the place is not safe and secure for outsiders. It is certainly not the responsibility of Bangladeshi cricketers to prove to the world that Pakistan is a safe place to hold matches; it is Pakistan’s responsibly.
For argument’s sake if Bangladesh visits Pakistan and our team comes home safe, it certainly does not mean that other teams will necessarily return safe. I have seen comments on the Facebook that as Bangladeshis are Muslims, such attacks will not take place. Reading such comments, we need to be concerned as to how a country segregates people based on religion. People may argue that Facebook comments do not tell all the stories or cannot be taken seriously but we need to take into consideration all the factors before we send our boys to Pakistan.
The people giving comments on Facebook are surely from Pakistan (or Pakistanis) and they want Tigers to visit Pakistan but the reasons they are coming up with should be of a serious concern. How a country’s people judge people solely based on religion? As a Muslim, I cannot say or demand that other religion is inferior or does not serve the mankind. One may think these are minor issues but all these issues need to be taken into consideration before the Tigers tour Pakistan.
There is a genuine reason behind Bangladesh’s not visiting Pakistan. The reason is security, nothing else but security. In short, the PCB is considering it as payback time for the BCB for all the support it extended towards the latter at different times. True, the PCB did support the BCB on different occasions but mind you not at the cost of life. Now what the PCB is trying to do with us could be called ‘blackmail’. It’s so sad when we see the PCB following such a path to invite us to play in their country. The irony is the PCB is not pursing any other country to tour their country but has picked Bangladesh. For this situation if someone is to be blamed it should be Mr. Kamal, the former BCB president.
Currently in India, the nation has stood up for one cause that is the punishment of the rapist. Indian people are out in the streets protesting against the act. Similarly, in case of the Bangladesh cricket team touring Pakistan, the nation is very much against it. In different cities, human chains were formed against the tour.
Our relationship with Pakistan after 40 years has not smoothened up yet, now under such strenuous situation in Pakistan, if things go wrong the damage would be irreparable. To please a board, we should not take such a risk. As the new president of the board rightly pointed out in the press conference, the decision was solely based on security of our boys and not a political one. The world is watching, and the situation in Pakistan is much worse now than it was when Mr. Kamal and his team visited Pakistan. It is a new year and both the boards should focus and work together to tighten the ties between the two cricketing nations.
Diplomacy is fine but should not lose its perspective. When lives are at stake everything should take a backseat. Who does not love a good cricket match? Unfortunately, the present scenario is not conducive to this.
Dr Nadim Jahangir is professor and dean, School of Business, Independent University, Bangladesh.
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