New Zealand, a country that enjoys tremendous popularity amongst Pakistanis for their friendly and unbiased nature; a trait lacking from their Trans-Tasman Australian counterparts. But a shock withdrawal minutes before the commencement for the most anticipated series in Pakistan’s Cricketing calendar for 2021, has left every Pakistani dumbfounded.
Assurances by Prime Minister Imran Khan to Jacinda Ardern were given regarding the fool-proof Presidential-level security for the team, as well as security clearances given by New Zealand Cricket’s own security advisors regarding the arrangements. An unbecoming bipolar attitude from New Zealand is a stark humiliating reminder for Pakistan on its long road ahead in bringing Cricket back to the country. Unilateral judgments based on flimsy intelligence seem to be a greater danger, as compared to sending players to participate in India’s IPL.
A biased behavior towards Pakistan?
It seems like the deaths of 444,278 people with an average count of 30,000 cases, seem to not be a cause of concern for the board or the Government. Not to mention, when the world was in lockdown due to Coronavirus and researchers were scrambling to finalize a vaccine, New Zealand decided to send six of their players to play in the IPL last year. Pakistan on the other hand, sent their players to tour New Zealand out of goodwill in December 2020 and despite the mental toll of quarantine affecting the players’ abilities to prepare wholesomely for the series; Pakistan forged ahead out of goodwill.
This was heavily reflected in their below-par performances against New Zealand. But nonetheless, the greater financial interests of New Zealand Cricket as well as Cricketing as a whole were placed above the health and well-being of our players and look how we have been repaid.
No attack, no physical harm, or threat to the immediate safety of the players or the staff has occurred since Zimbabwe triggered the revival of International Cricket back in 2015. But New Zealand needs to be reminded that Bangladeshi Cricketers were almost lambs to the slaughter, when Australian Terrorist Brenton Tarrant mercilessly killed Muslim worshippers, in a Christchurch Mosqueback in 2019.
The players were moments away from entering the premises when they were sent back and had to duck for cover inside their team bus for eight to 10 minutes. But this attack did not stop the English Cricket Team, embarking on a tour just seven months later nor was it used as an excuse by a Muslim nation like Pakistan from touring New Zealand.
The concept of Anglo hypocrisy
Avoiding Pakistan is a sheer example of Anglo hypocrisy guided under the veil of security threats that have attempted to tarnish the countries cricketing reputation and overall global standing. It seems the world moves on rather quickly without batting an eyelid when a Terrorist attack happens in any Western country but unlike for Pakistan, it is banished to oblivion even due to flimsy intelligence. When the 9/11 attacks happened, it was the greatest intelligence failure by the world’s sole super power’ but despite the deaths of 3000 people, sporting events continued as if nothing happened.
United States Grand Prix went ahead as scheduled on the 30th of September and the Chicago Marathon was held on the 7th of October. This is not to mention the New York City Marathon, which occurred on the 3rd of November and had 30,000 participants from all over the world who competed in front of 2 million spectators. In addition to this not one country objected or withdrew due to fears of security threats from their participation in the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City; barely five months after the 9/11 attacks. Instead, the world took a united stand against terrorism, but that unity is noticeably absent when Pakistan is brought into question.
Similarly, the Madrid train bombings which killed 193 people occurred during the 2004 Men’s Hockey Olympic Qualifier. Ironically New Zealand played South Africa on the day of the bombings, as well as the following day against Great Britain for the fifth position. Despite another intelligence failure by a Western agency, the tournament was completed without any absence, evacuation, or withdrawal from anyone including New Zealand.
When the 7/7 London Bombings occurred in 2005, the Ashes went ahead three weeks later on the 21st of July. Australians who are often the first to desert on the basis of security (in the case of Pakistan,) were untroubled by the security failure of the British Intelligence Agency, especially with their inability to detect four suicide bomb blasts, which led to the deaths of 52 people and injured 700 Londoners. No security clearance by a governing body was denied. No teams were boycotted and no players were given the choice to choose if they wanted to tour or not; as is the case for visiting teams in Pakistan. So why the double standards?
What is the reason behind these double standards?
Pakistan’s Intelligence Agency does not give ‘spur of the moment’ assessments regarding National Security dilemmas. The country has given the most in the War on Terror and has succeeded in its endeavor to bring peace and prosperity to the region. Not much can be said about the ‘Coalition of the Willing’ that New Zealand was a part of, where it failed in every metric in Afghanistan as well as its inability (like the others) to recognize the Taliban’s capabilities.
But in the same vein as New Zealand and its partners failed to understand the history of Afghanistan they too seemed to have forgotten about the history of isolating Pakistani Cricket. When Pakistan was isolated in 2009, the country rose up to become the 2009 T20 World Cup Champions. Similarly, it was crowned World Number One in tests in 2016 and winners of the Champions trophy in 2017. This was during a time when none of the big four test teams showed an inclination to tour or play against the country.
This is a defining moment for the incoming PCB Chief Ramiz Raja and any willingness to play at a neutral venue will only help to achieve what New Zealand has done today, and that is the renewal of Pakistan Cricket’s pariah status. This decision will have ramifications for upcoming tours by Australia and England, as the latter has already withdrawn from touring the country, as they use the same security team for assessing safety as the New Zealand Cricket Board does. But one thing is certain no matter how hypocritical or distasteful, their double standards won’t deter Pakistan Cricket!
Pakistan Zindabad. Pakistan Cricket Paindabad!!
The writer is a Defence and Political Analyst with a Masters in International Relations specializing in Conflict & Security as well Asia-Pacific Regional Dynamics from Deakin University, Australia. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.