So Pakistan and Bangladesh faced each other in the Asia Cup Final and Pakistan managed to grab the victory by only 2 runs. Our nation is ecstatic and rightly so; we won this cup after 12 long years.
Yesterday, while I was flipping through the television channels, I heard some cricket expert state that it’s going to be for the first time in the history of cricket, that two Muslim countries are to face each other ever in the final of a big series. And I silently condemned him for mixing religion with sport and deemed it totally pointless and irrelevant to mention that fact.
Today, as the match progressed and reached its most crucial stage at the end, I saw the whole crowd of Bangladesh praying desperately and then I saw the people of my own country supplicating with equal anxiety. A rather strange thought crossed my mind: two nations,collectively invoking the same God, in the same way, begging for two totally opposite outcomes, I wondered if God loves us enough as a nation to favor our prayers more.
It turned out that we won. Our moments of collective pride and jubilation are indeed rare and I wish to thank Allah for giving us a reason to rejoice as a nation.
As far as my personal opinion about Bangladesh is concerned, I have never felt the general acrimony against Bangladesh as I would normally feel towards any other opponent in cricket. Now consider my behavior as inappropriate, because I decide to bring history into sports, but all I feel towards Bangladesh is a sort of affiliation covered by a feeling of remorse. Bangladesh could still have been a part of Pakistan, if we never treated them like a colony. Despite the fact that Bengalis were essentially the most prominent figures in the Movement for Pakistan (in fact even Muslim League was established in Dhaka in 1906), we shamelessly kept them deprived economically, politically and socially and to make matters worse, the rigid, condescending behavior of our politicians alienated them even further. Then our fat, flabby generals decided to hit the last nail in the coffin by launching a brutal, military operation that ended up perpetrating unspeakable atrocities. For further references to the moral lapses, see Hamood-ur-Rehman Commission Report of 1971. Anyway, in short, all I believe that Bangladesh deserves from us is a little confession and a huge apology.
See, I digressed.
My point is that I support Bangladesh in every match except if it’s against Pakistan. Me sense of being a Pakistani weighs more than the general affection that I feel for Bangladesh. Although I very well realize, that we are to Bangladesh what India is to us. I imagine that the history textbooks in schools in Bangladesh must portray us as the dirty, evil villains of their past. I am sure they hate us. And they have a right to.
As Pakistan bagged the win after a nail biting last over, I was exceptionally happy to see the people of my country rejuvenating their pride in being Pakistanis. It was equally heart-wrenching to see the faces of Shakib-al-Hassan, Mushfiq-ur-Rehman and other Bengalis players streamed with tears of disappointment, weeping, hugging and comforting each other. For a moment I found myself wishing that the pharaohs from our past hadn’t just dissected the country up. I felt sorry but I knew I would never trade it with the celebration and contentment I see across my streets because the people of my land need reasons to be united more than anyone else does.
A few months back I watched a report on television, that claimed that recently the London School of Economics conducted a survey to determine which country’s people are the happiest people on the planet. It was found out Bangladesh topped the list. I am not sure how accurate that survey might be, but it surely declared Bengalis as the happiest nation around the globe. I do not exactly recall where did Pakistan stand in the list but I have a hazy idea that it was somewhere around in the 30s or 40s. The grief-stricken, oppressed people of my country also deserve to be happy someday. You, my dear brothers, are a happy, progressing state anyway.
So Bangladesh, you guys played exceptionally well. And I want to thank you from the core of my heart for knocking India out of the series, for emerging as a tough opponent, turning the final into an interesting nail biting game and fighting hard enough not to make Pakistan’s victory look like a one-sided piece of cake, and for establishing a general example for everyone that anything small and weak is capable of rising to be mighty. Nobody is going to underestimate you ever again and that is your victory. I wish you all the very best for all your future cricket encounters.
I respect you Bangladesh.
But I love to see Pakistan win.
P.S. (added after 4 days) Now when your pleas to reverse the final on the basis of stupid allegations are sprouting all over the place, I might want to withdraw some of the respect and affection that I showered upon you earlier. Accept the defeat with dignity at least and stop whining like babies. Thanks.