Disclaimer: I apologise in advance to all my friends, family members and anyone Ive been remotely associated with, ever, in my entire life. I mean no one harm and the last thing I want to do is to endanger the lives of those I care about. Having said that, I must make it clear that I cannot hold back my feelings on this subject any longer. I understand the risks of committing blasphemy in Pakistan, but my convictions are far too important to put aside simply out of fear for someone elses life. So much without further ado, here goes nothing.
Our news channels always try to pun one over on us. Every time a self obsessed, obnoxious, newsroom bottom-feeding grammar-Nazi comes up with a headline they think is very smart, they smile to themselves and then smirk as others gather round to tell him/her what a brilliant piece of wordplay said Nazi has come up with. The accolades start pouring in and soon the channel in question has their creative department working round the clock to make said headline part of everyday parlance. It is essential to understand that this is where the actual work begins. Up until this point, no one has done any actual work, because, after all, sitting on your posterior in front of a computer screen going through websites such as idiomdictionary.com cant really be classified in the same category as manual labour. But banners go up on I I Chundrigar Road, Blue Area and The Mall and news channel(s) are awash with promos and channel IDs promoting the phrase, which is probably the most hackneyed reworking in sporting history of a too oft used one-liner. Ive worked for a few of these channels and newspapers as a professional obnoxious grammar-Nazi, so I really know what Im talking about.
So theyre calling it Cricket ki Dasween Aalmi Jang! And although focus groups and psychiatric experts have assured the channels that this is a simile that provides positive reinforcement to the idea of being at war with everyone. This catchphrase, Im sure, has also been ISPR-approved, as it helps to take the focus off the fledgling war against terror and puts more focus on our militarys primary objective, war with India. Primary objective in the sense that they want to avoid this particular scenario in real life at all costs. This means they will go to any lengths to have this pent up anti-India frustration that every Pakistani seems to be inexplicably indoctrinated with released in any theatre other than the theatre of war. This preoccupation with released pent up feelings is not exclusive to the military, although Im told they do it a lot, on an individual and a group level.
But I digress. As a venerable source of authentic (Ha!) information on all matters that concern the people of Pakistan, the news media has made it a point to try to infect any and every Pakistani with World Cup fever. Partly because one big media house has the exclusive rights to broadcast the matches, and the state channel has refused to stop leeching. But mostly because an unruly bunch of ruffians calling themselves cable guys refuse to obey international licensing agreements. Now youve got yourself a party.
Speaking of parties, this World Cup is giving all minnows and their compatriots ample room for some serious celebration. The Irish in particular are painting the town totally green, especially after their record-breaking uber-dramatic victory over traditional oppressors England. Never have I seen more drive and determination to show down another country in the sporting arena, except maybe for the famous Iran vs USA football match in some World Cup or other. India vs Pakistan battles just pale in comparison to the way the Irish dismantled England. I have high hopes for these green hornets.
Unfortunately, I cant say the same for our greenshirts. While Boom Booms Googly looks unpickable, theres not a whole lot that this team has going for it. I hate to admit it, but if this rag-tag bunch of juveniles make it past the quarter-finals, I will sell all my belongings and buy tickets to the final. This will also help me assassinate any players who throw the match away, willingly or unwittingly. My sniper rifle is all ready for the trip through customs, and Ive seen The Day of the Jackal five times in the past week, so Im all ready for that trip.
But in all seriousness, I sincerely hope we win this one. Not because we need to re-establish ourselves as force to be reckoned with in the international arena, or because itll help bring cricket and other international sports back to Pakistan, or even because our players need the money. We need this one because we need something good happening in our lives. And if Afridi cant deliver, may the Lord have mercy on his soul!
The writer is a broadcast journalist.