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Thursday, 28 February 2013

Afridi: take a bow!

In just about a couple of hours from now, Shahid Afridi will turn 33. People may contest his age, but we shouldn’t be bothered. This piece will succinctly shed-light on his odyssey in the game of cricket, as a tribute to him. Hailing from the fierce tribe of the Khyber Agency, Afridi showed his affinity for the game in his salad days in Karachi. His frenzy for the game in general and love for Imran Khan and Abdul Qadir, in particular gave him the impetus to take big strides. The culmination point  of his efforts was obviously playing for Pakistan at the stage that matters. I need not delve into how he managed to land in Nairobi from the West Indies. However, the unknown rookie pashtun dazzled the cricketing world on a bright sunny day at Nairobi. Much to the surprise of the Sri Lankans, a leg spinner , playing his 2nd ODI was sent-in at number 3. I wish that I had witnessed the carnage, for the 16-year old Afridi pulverized the best in the business. He conjured a record of scoring the quickest century in international cricket (37 balls). The  record stands as of this writing! The innings did a  colossal damage , and was adorned with 11 sixes and 6 fours. The tally of sixes remained a record till 2008, when Xavier Marshall broke the record. A leg –spinner became a big hitter. Soon, he featured as an opener in ODI’s regularly. As back as 1st November, 1996, Afridi scored a 37-ball 66 vs Zimbabwe as an opener. Afridi became well-known for his six hitting and brisk scoring. This is why he has the best strike-rate , and the most number of sixes in ODI’s (298). Moreover, he has the most number of international sixes.
I am trying to avoid going into his career statistics. I have plenty of conspicuous performances to jot down, but those are already well-documented. However, still there is a need to highlight a few instances. As aforementioned, the Nairobi-carnage virtually turned him from a leggie to an opener, but things are different 17 years later. In his early days , he was used as a part-timer, but proved way too effective at times; one must recall his bowling feats in the 1997’s C&G series; his test debut vs Australia; 3-fer in the Chennai-test and many more since then. As a matter of fact, he has taken 155 ODI scalps in the last 6 years, which are inclusive of 6,  5 wicket hauls. Currently, he happens to be the 3rd highest wicket taker for Pakistan in ODI, after Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis. His Test record is impressive to say the least; his contributions in the longer formats have been profound, be it his 141 at Chennai or his 3/13 at Bengalore in 2005. The fact that Pakistan won the ICC World T20 suffices the need not to talk more about his meritorious services in the shortest form of the game.
Afridi’s career is on my fingertips; and I am proud on it, simply because he has served my country for more than 16 years, not only as a cricketer. As long as he is not found guilty of tarnishing the image of this great country, I will love and admire him. Cricket is not a dime a dozen; he is going through a torrid time_ hope his 34th year usher-In a productive period!

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Hagel: I am not surprised!

Wilsonian diplomacy lies at the heart of American foreign policy decision-making. America has pursued her Geo-strategic goals, which naturally show realist proclivities under the garb of liberal ideas of Woodrow Wilson.  I am not blaming the United States, for the international system is anarchic and brutal; national interests ought to be looked after in earnest. Leave these theories of international politics and American advent to diplomacy aside. Let’s apply the realist worldview to the policies adopted by our neighbor, India. Chuck Hegal’s remarks regarding India’s role in subverting Pakistan have certainly not been likened by the Indians and the so-called Pakistan liberals. The question is why aren’t we interested even to think about what Hegal opined? Hagel spoke about India’s influence in Afghanistan post 9/11, which culminated in the strategic partnership between the former and latter. The ambit of the partnership ranges from education to security! _ Military training is an important element. However, there is not much that we can make –out of India’s Afghan Policy as of now, but history vouches for the fact that, India is highly-capable of doing exactly what Hegal said in 2011. Yes, indeed past is a prologue. The inference from Hagel’s claim is that, India tries to play hell with Pakistan, albeit, differently. Has India done nothing in the past 65 years? Why is there hue and cry? Let’s shed-light on history.
The difference in the rhetoric of the men that mattered on both sides of the border was remarkable, to say the least.  Jinnah,  was aspirant of maintaining cordial relations with “Hindustan”. On the other hand, the remarks from across the border were certainly fiery. The Indian National Congress declared, The picture of India we have learned to cherish will remain in our hearts and minds’ here, one need not delve upon Kashmir, but there is a need to talk about Nehru’s obsession with the vale in light of Wolpert’s and Lamb’s research. The former in his book “Shameful flight” said “He (Nehru) lavished India’s martial and material resources on the defense of Kashmir. The latter gave an account of Indian designs in his famous book “Kashmir : a disputed legacy”. He gave a verbatim account of letters by Krishna Memon and Nehru to Lord Dickie. On 14th June, 1947, Krishna Menon wrote a letter to Mountbatten, warning him of dire consequences to Anglo-Indian relations if the state of Jammu and Kashmir was handed over to Pakistan. Then Nehru remarked in his note to Mountbatten “ The normal and obvious course appears to be for Kashmir to join the Constituent Assembly of India. This will satisfy both the popular demand and the Maharaja’s wishes. There is plenty to discuss about Kashmir, but that is not for the consumption of the piece. However, the point that one needs to raise is that of India’s bellicosity, which remains an integral part  of their foreign policy. The water crisis , the Rann of Kutch issue, and even Gibralter to a certain extent is owed to India’s bullying tactics. There are  more episodes, which are worth-mentioning.
Firstly, the East Pakistan crisis ended in ignominy for us because of India’s violation of the Tashkent accords. The home grown crisis was capitalized upon by the virulent Indians. Gen Maneshaw openly stated in one of his interviews, that Indira Gandhi ordered him to take military action as back as 27th April, 1971. However, India waited till the eve of Eid 20/21 November to launch an attack ; there Army comprised of II corp., IV Corp, 101 Communication Zone  and XXXIII Corp. however, before November, 1971 they were covertly involved in action, which one can only associate with enemies, not friends. A proper training program was run in India under Brigadier Shah Beg and Brigadier Jagjit Singh; special courses were designed: Science Graduate courses, for instance. Lt-Gen A A K Niazi in his book “ Betrayal of East Pakistan  has narrated an authentic account by Meorarji Desai. Desai didn’t hesitate to blame Indira Gandhi for provoking the war. Desai said that she sent thousands of Indians of soldiers in plain clothes, much to the chagrin of the army. Seminal work by Ashoka Raina can’t be possibly challenged; India cannot absolve herself of breaking the country. There is no denial regarding our own follies, but for me to believe in those who consider India’s intervention was restricted from 3rd to 16th December, corroborating evidences are needed.
I am trying not to sift into the all-important nuclear rivalry; Brasstacks or Cold Start, but a fact has to established that, be it the nexus between  Nehru and Bhabha pre Lop nor , or be it Sundarji’s  panache, Indian diplomacy has been nothing, but coercive. They have tried tooth and nail in outdoing Pakistan. Should we blame them? No, we should mend our ways and become impregnable. However, we cannot circumvent India; we need to be cognizant of her ambitious designs, which are not new. Hegal’s viewpoint is most likely to be true if we extrapolate. The stage is being set for the tug-off war between the regional as well intra-Afghan powers in Afghanistan after 2014; India will definitely try to put her weight in the future dispensation of the landlocked country.