Monkey see, Monkey do. Even with all our fancy qualifications, iPod’s and Wi-Fi gadgets there’s no getting away from the human desire to imitate those that we admire. The trouble with being a British Pakistani Muslim is that there aren’t many monkeys to imitate. We have Amir Khan, Riz Ahmed, James Caan and I can’t think of anyone else! It goes beyond a simple imitation theory. It’s a desire to look up to someone who you can relate to, be proud of them and hence proud of whom you are.
It’s not often you get the opportunity to be proud of who you are as a British Pakistani Muslim. After all we’re all crazy bazooka wielding enemies of Britain who lock women up at home in cupboards and force them to wear head scarves and marry our cousins right? Or so you may be lead to believe. In times of such intense pressure on young Muslims, with constant negative publicity and misconceptions a rife, all Muslims desire is a response. A response to say actually we’re just like everyone else. We’re not backwards, criminal minded or a threat. We’re not beneath the rest of British society.
Every few years British Pakistani’s can stand up and be recognised as talented, accomplished and intelligent. With every ball that fizzes down and every swish of willow...a brief moment of glory beckons. The response every British Muslim searches for but so few of us ever find.
A country which has been in turmoil ever since its birth, Pakistan has always found solace in cricket. The world cup winning days of Imran Khan put every Pakistani on top of the world. The victory was savoured by Pakistani’s all around the globe. Every few years the Pakistani cricket team visits England on tour and British Pakistani’s flock to see their heroes. And despite their characteristic unpredictability, they have more often than not given England a run for their money. British Pakistani Waheed Farooq perceives it as “a lot of young Pakistani Muslims look up to the Pakistan team cause they’re the only ones “repping” the country...if your Pakistani and look at everything all you see is destruction but with the cricket team they tend to win and bring joy....however this recent episode have left it tarnished and need a lot of recovery to take it back to how it was..”
Many young people believe that cricket is a tremendous game, as one British Pakistani youth Waqas Arif went on to say “Cricket is the most enjoyable of sports and it is my best sport, the reason why cricket is so good is because it is a man’s game and also it is very competitive.” Similarly other cricket enthusiasts stated that they “love cricket to bits” along with Ahsan Shah who said that “I am rather passionate this topic”. This clearly shows that British Pakistani Muslims are hugely excited about this phenomenal sport and hold this very close to their hearts.
Despite the drug scandals, constant changes in hierarchy, political messes and blatant favouritisms, Pakistani fans have stayed loyal to their team. Only now it appears that some Pakistani’s have been literally giving England a run for their money! It’s a betrayal of the worst kind. Bewafa.
While Pakistani’s have been paying their hard earned cash to catch a glimpse of their heroes, the players have been taking money to fix certain small events within a game. Ahsan Shah a British Pakistani expressed his anger as he felt that “I personally have lost all respect for the three players in question and what's worse is I was actually there at lords the day when the three no balls were bowled. If they were cheating then I’ve been ripped off basically and it has really tarnished the credibility of the team”.
However beneath the scandalous surface lies an undeniable vulnerability. Take Mohammad Amir for example. An 18 year old fast bowler who has taken the cricket world by storm as one of the most exciting prospects the game has seen in years. But in a cricket age where stars around the world earn several million dollars per year, Mohammad Amir earns less than a bus driver in Britain.
The rest of the Pakistani squad do not fair a lot better. Perhaps the International Cricket Council (ICC) should take a look in the mirror in their search for scapegoats? Pakistani’s were the only nation to be wholly excluded from the Indian Premier League, the most lucrative cricketing tournament in the world. And yet the ICC didn’t utter a word.
The tragedy of this whole saga is not the “damage to cricket” or the blemish on reputations. The tragedy is young Pakistani’s and British Pakistani’s have lost the only heroes they have. The only men who could muster a response are now part of the onslaught.
Nasir Sayed and Rezaul Islam
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