The cricket stars, Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir have been accused of match and spot fixing, causing much distress to the people of Pakistan, and to all cricket lovers worldwide. This accusation has done more than shatter people’s hopes; it has made them lose interest in cricket. I feel that for a team that was working towards its peak, it has completely demoralised those few cricketers who actually wanted to continue with a fair approach to the game.
In my opinion strict action should be taken against the guilty players including the mastermind behind the fixing- Mazhar Majeed. A sting operation was carried out by the a newspaper News of The World in the UK which quoted him as saying,
“This is exactly what’s going to happen, you’re going to see these three things happen. I’m telling you, if you play this right you’re going to make a lot of money, believe me!”
Now this being quoted in a tabloid newspaper does kindle some hatred and anger to say the least. Is this country not suffering enough? Has it not been through trauma after trauma (i.e. a plane crash, devastating flooding, rioting, use of performance enhancing drugs and most of all terrorism) that it is now being stabbed by delinquents in the want for money?
Apart from the disgrace and shame that was thrust upon the country, it also presents a very damning image of Pakistani morals. They were ambassadors of Pakistan, they were supposed to possess the qualities of dignity, prestige and honesty— but they quite venally accepted illegal sums of money and had to be release was based on regonisance. I’ve come across people saying that Mohammad Amir is a juvenile and could be easily manipulated. Now this and other explanations are just excuses and it shocks me to the core, that even after such substantial evidence (i.e. tape recordings, bespoken witnesses, videos, undercover footage as part of the sting operations) has been given, some are still finding loopholes and are quite oblivious of the consequences. This is not being the first time that such allegations have been put forward. In fact in 1994 allegations were put forward against some other cricketers that eventually led to a conviction in 1999 by Justice Mohammad Qayyum after a detailed investigation. The cricket captain at the time, Salim Malik, and fast bowler Ata-ur-Rehman were banned for life along with penalties imposed on Pakistan’s star cricketers, Waseem Akram, Saeed Anwar, Inzamam-ul-Haq, Waqar Younus, Mushtaq Ahmed and Saqlain Mushtaq. Although, severe action was taken Pakistan has still not been able to rid itself of this menace. India, our neighboring country, with their at that time cricket captain, Mohammad Azharuddin and players Ajay Jadeja, Sharma and Nayan Mongia all received life bans for similar offences. Also, South African captain at that time, Hansie Cronje, was also convicted and placed under a life ban. Taking into account these examples where prompt and effective action was taken resulting in no further convictions since, Pakistan continues dealing with incessant charges for other illicit activities such as altering the shape of the ball, the use of drugs for a better performance etc as our efforts are incomplete and ineffective.
There is a litany of scandals in Pakistan that the world media has fed on, and now it is time when prompt and decisive action must take place and Pakistan’s name should be cleared and put back in its place of dignity, where it rightly belongs!
Shanzeh Javed Agrawala X-K