Sporting encounters between India & Pakistan are the epitome of fierce rivalry. Over-the-top & exaggerated celebrations by the winning team are very common. But the ‘celebrations’ carried out by Pakistan hockey team after the semifinals match against India in Champions Trophy held recently crossed all the limits of exuberation and decency. Spirit of sports was sacrificed at the altar of a ‘middle-finger’.
Pakistan hockey team thereafter is in the eye of a storm and has received a lot of flak from sports lovers all across the world, particularly from India.
But before we go ahead with the criticism of Pakistan hockey team, we must try to get an insight into the mind of an average Pakistani sportsperson, their hockey players in this case.
These players come from a section of society in Pakistan that has a very modest background (which actually forms the majority in Pakistan). This strata of Pakistani society has nothing to look forward to, nothing to look up to and nothing to feel proud of. It’s a society that has been betrayed by their ruling class big time.
Their country is proxy ruled by an army that has a habit of waging wars and losing them subsequently. They have an elected government, which has no control over the state of affairs of the country. Their economy is in doldrums, infrastructure in most of the country is many years behind the rest of the world. A small section of the society is ultra rich and controls all the wealth and opportunities available and is prospering while the majority struggles perpetually, not only to survive but also to get their share of respect and sense of belonging which every society in the world is entitled to. This large section of population with the modest background knows that their life is not going to get better anytime soon.
In today’s world where all the nations, big or small excel in some field or the other; science, technology, space, medicine, economy, infrastructure, sports, tourism etc. Pakistan is one of the few countries that have nothing worthwhile to offer.
This is where the leaders have driven this country to, after 67 years of its creation. To remain in the proximity of power and to remain relevant they needed to create an enemy from whom they would ‘save and protect’ their countrymen. With a false sense of fear looming large, they could neglect all welfare and development, fill their coffers and seem busy protecting their country from a non-existent enemy. And India, as we all know has been nominated as that enemy.
With their military misadventures also backfiring they realized that they couldn’t match India in any way, so they shifted the focus to sports. But here also the options were limited. In all the Olympic level disciplines, Pakistan is yet to produce a competitive team or set of players. Even in somewhat violent sports like Boxing and Wrestling, Indians have outplayed their Pakistan counterparts by a huge margins, be it Asian Games, Commonwealth or Olympics.
So the only two battlefields left were – Cricket & Hockey, the only two sports they are good at internationally. The entire nation was oriented to pin their energies, hopes and aspirations to trump India in these two sports. The ultimate nirvana, the ultimate victory that could bring them glory. Who can forget the antics of Javed Miandad against many India cricketers on and off the field (He later got into a matrimonial alliance with one of the most wanted terrorists of the world, that’s another story).
Now that there is no cricket action happening between the two nations unfortunately (or may be fortunately) any random hockey match becomes a virtual battleground for Pakistani supporters and players.
So when these poor chaps took to the field, they carried the burden of hopes of an entire nation that was waiting to see India lose, and instill their nation with a feeling of superiority (however bizarre it may sound). Knowing this, they put their heart and soul into this and ended the game with a victory, which is commendable and must be appreciated. They gave a ‘lease of life’ to their country, gave their existence some meaning for a short term. The much talked about ‘celebrations’ were a result of this gigantic achievement and naturally, the emotions overflowed. And this flood of emotions caused devastation, as any flood would. And now when the waters have receded and aftermath lay bare, we are assessing the damage.
So lets not train our guns on the naïve, moderately educated ‘messiahs’ of Pakistani pride. But hope and pray that the country, which they belong to, learns the purpose of its being and works for the benefit of its society. Finds and creates means to make lives of its people better. Comes to an understanding that hatred towards India is not the purpose of their existence. Gives their people so much of fulfillment that winning or losing a hockey match does not make any difference in their lives and they are able to stand up and applaud the winning team irrespective of its nationality, as most of the world does.
Till the time it happens, you can pretty much expect the same wherever and whenever a Pakistan cricket or hockey team plays against India. Always remember that they need our bouquet of sympathy not the brickbats. They are only the victims of their circumstances like most of their countrymen.