Frank Huzur has sent this exclusive piece for Pak Tea House from New Delhi.
I’m youth, I’m joy, I’m a little bird that has broken out of the egg. These words of legendary Scottish Novelist James Matthews Barrie were ringing in the ear of Indian pollsters and Pundits with resonant frequency by the early afternoon of 16 May. The verdict over 15th Lok Sabha elections was trickling in thick and fast. Citadel after citadel, bastion after bastion of fanciful imagination was dying instant death in the shooting Mercury. Many myths were raveling fast, and one of the greatest myth was unraveling of The Rahul Gandhi factor. The factor fast spread into a phenomenon over the next 48 hours as the Congress Party, the grand old party of India, clenched its fist over its most impressive tally in the past two-and-half-decade. Rahul Gandhi, apparently, had propelled the fledgling Congress party and its pre-poll allies to striking distance of magic figure of 272. The Congress was grinning like Cheshire cat with 206 seats in the lower house of Indian Parliament, quite a feat by any conceivable standards.
Rahul Gandhi was no better than Peter Pan with baby teeth to army of political astrologers in the rival camp of principal opposition party, the BJP and its constituent of NDA.
The wily fox of the Hindu nationalist party took potshots at Rahul Gandhi’s political wisdom many a times in course of over 45 days electioneering saying he was merely an exaggerated stereotype of a boastful and careless boy like the original character of Barrie of the Neverland. He can only fly, not land on his own, was the constant refrain in ivory towers of Opposition. When leading trend halted a little over 200 in the seat tally, shock, horror, cynicism and disbelief was written all over the face of vanquished, a large army of losers in the battle for hearts and minds of over 700 million Indian voters. Rahul Gandhi, 38 years old Continue reading
Filed under India, Politics
by Raza Rumi
I am not concerned with the technicalities of Shoaib Akhtar’s sentence, which have been the subject of much debate across Pakistan and indeed wherever cricket is played and followed. There have been some avoidable outbursts by both Akhtar and his disciplinarians. Akhtar has a chequered past in the conventional sense; and perhaps his tragic flaw is the cavalier attitude that is now a hallmark of his persona. But he is a star whose talent has done cricket, Pakistan, and Pakistanis proud. The quantum of punishment given to him has therefore been viewed as some sort of betrayal, and many have termed it unfair. But this is now a sub judice matter and so cannot be commented upon any further.
However, what lies underneath the narrative of Shoaib Akhtar’s plight relates to the sociological and attitudinal trends that have now engulfed Pakistan, like a poisonous creeper that consumes even the best kept plants in a garden.
Shoaib Akhtar is self-made, rising from humble origins into the global limelight. Born at Morgah, a small town near Rawalpindi, on August 13 1975, he is the youngest of four sons (he also has a younger sister) of an oil refinery worker. Far from following in his father’s footsteps, however, Akhtar began to show cricketing talent while still at school. It was at Asghar Mall College, during his twenties, that his extraordinary skill at the game was recognised; he played at increasingly high levels (including a spell for the English team Worcestershire), culminating in his selection for the national team in 1997. He then shot to international fame during the 1999 World Cup. Stunning spectators with his bowling ability, he went on to set the world record for bowling speed at 100.2 mph, where it still stands.
Nicknamed “The Rawalpindi Express,” Akhtar’s performance in the 1999 World Cup meant that he suddenly became a household name in Pakistan. The immense run-up, the hurtling legs, the characteristic flop of the hair: every young man on the Pakistani streets wanted to be Shoaib Akhtar. It is clear, however, that he belongs to no family or cartel of cricketers. Through this transition to stardom, Akhtar’s attitude reflected his independence and self-reliance, his use only of his own abilities, strengths and skills. Until now, he has defied the sport’s entrenched culture of patronage, and therefore has neither sought, nor benefited from, it. Hence his troubled relations with the authorities, and his reluctance to follow the ingrained feudal culture of obedience, have found resonance with a changing Pakistan. Continue reading