Cricket is Hope.

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There are a number of factors that could generally be considered as cohesive forces that can serve to unite a nation. Religion, in our case, isn’t one of them. As much as we are indoctrinated to believe that Islam was the key propelling force that led to the creation of this state, I fail to see religion as a uniting force for our people. Even if I put aside the oppression and neglect that we uphold towards our minorities for a while, and solely focus on the Muslims of the Land of the Pure, the sight is not a pleasant one to behold. There is a constant state of battle in which every sect is insistent to declare the rest as repulsive infidels and deem their own selves as the true believers. We are a country in which two sects won’t break their fast on the same time just to maintain their differences, where one province always mysteriously sights the Eid moon one day before the others and even the celebration of the biggest religious festival is not uniformly observed across the country.

Political ideology doesn’t count as one of the uniting umbrellas for us either. There would be a man whose sense of patriotism would stand unquestioned among all, after the glorious moments of pride he earned for the country; whose humanitarian works would lead us to classify him as a quintessence of benevolence. But the moment he descends onto the muddy path of politics, suddenly a league of skeptics would erupt amongst us and begin questioning his motives and doubting his abilities to ever be able to achieve any political success. The instant he begins drawing incredibly large crowds, stirring them into sparks of passion and awareness, a concurrent surge of smear campaigners will also rise, who, in their disgruntled desire to sound like uniquely and autonomously opinionated intellectuals, will manufacture and propagate flaws and apprehensions to breed neuroticism and pessimism among the people who dared to hope for the better. In short, it seems highly unlikely that we ever unanimously decide to gather under a political canopy for there will always be the fads and the haters. Cynicism has become our national character.

Unity seems to elude us in almost every sphere of life. A highly intolerantly polarized society as we are: some are liberal ‘wajib-ul-qatl’ trash in the eyes of others, while others deem some as despicable fundamentalist extremists. The wall of antagonism between the rich and the poor is also mounting for there is discontentment on one side and contempt on the other. There is a divided opinion on almost every issue faced by our country. The disunity erupts into its most gory form of ethnic hatred and intolerance, which is evident in the ethnic violence and targeted killings in Karachi.

The founder of our motherland advised we must adhere to the three ingredients required for the making of a strong and successful nation; unity was one of them. I feel sad because I imagine that looking at us must cause his soul much deep anguish. My quest for a reasonable source of national unity could have ended in despair, pushing me down further in the abyss of hopelessness if there wasn’t one glimmer of hope to cling on to: Cricket. For me it’s not just a sport, it is a reason to hope.

If any of you ever had a rejuvenating experience to witness any public screening event of the cricket matches of Pakistan, or had ever come across any sort of celebration on the streets after a huge victory, you would probably agree with me when I say that cricket is an incredible cohesive force that merges all our nation into a single entity, giving them all a similar reason to rejoice, converging all their dreams onto a single point, all lips seen uttering the same prayer. Leaving aside the tiny number of Pakistanis whose existence is sad enough to render them indifferent to the sport of Cricket, there are basically two broad types of green supporters: those who submit their unconditional love and support for the green shirts, no matter how they perform, and those who enrage and censure their very heroes when they fail to fulfill their expectations. This is much analogous to a mother slapping her child after he failed his final exam. She reprimands him for she is hurt because she expected her child to do better. The underlying sentiment for both the types is more or less the same. The amount of passion and unity at display during the cricketing season is beyond any comparison; the same across the rich and the poor, the same regardless of any religious dispositions or political affiliations. And especially the anticipation of a match with the ‘rawayti hareef’ brings our nation even closer. No matter how many talks of trade that we carry out, or what sorts of ‘aman ki ashaa(yain)’ we generate, we cannot deny the fact that an encounter with India in the cricket field will always translate into a war. And to be honest, I do not mind any bloodthirsty energy as long as it is enough to engender solidarity amongst us. We are a nation hungry for a few moments of pride and cricket is a season of hope for us. Cricket is our rare source of unity and let us just vow not to abandon this unity under either victory or defeat because positive nations do not just disown their assets under changing circumstances. There will always be fluctuating moments of triumphant pride and unfortunate disappointments but the factor of unity must remain a constant. No matter what the outcome turns out to be, let us just seek comfort in the fact that for once, we were one. Let us just not give up the only kind of unity that we possess.

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