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From Wagah to Abu Dhabi: Standing up in the face of adversity

In a mere 2 months, Pakistan has faced two devastating Taliban attacks. The first, a suicide bombing on the Pakistan-India border crossing evening ceremony at Wagah, which killed 60 people, in early November. The second, just a few days ago, a massacre of 132 schoolchildren and 9 members of staff inside the Army Public School in Peshawar.

The next day, that very ceremony at Wagah, barely 24 hours ago had seen violent bloodshed, took place again, with the same fervor and national spirit with which it had always taken place, and will continue to. On the occasion Corps Commander Lahore Lieutenant General Naveed Zaman said, “No one can take away passion and bravery possessed by Pakistanis”, while the Pakistan Army also extended its praise to the Punjab Rangers for holding the flag lowering ceremony despite looming threats.

Why do we do anything at all when a great tragedy has befallen us? The answer, though perhaps confusing and incomprehensible at first, is plain. It’s always best to keep busy. To plow that anger into something constructive and that rage into something positive.

On the morning of the 4th ODI between Pakistan and New Zealand at Abu Dhabi, steps were already being taken by the Pakistan Cricket Board to postpone the game. Cricketers on both sides, along with several others among st the rest of the cricketing universe, had expressed their grief over the tragic event. Understandably, the one’s on our side, didn’t want to play.

It has  been 6 years since an international cricketing fixture has taken place in Pakistan. In those six years Pakistan lost the chance to host the 2009 Champions Trophy and 2011 World Cup. Cricket moved out of Pakistan due to terrorism. Suspending it outside, however gut-wrenching it is, perhaps substantially defeats the purpose. A spokesperson for the PCB said “We made an unpopular decision and knew there will be criticism. The easiest decision was to postpone but that would’ve given strength to those who want the disruption of the country.”

If the cricketing world could be stopped for the death of an Australian cricketer, why not for the innocent in Peshawar? There is no explanation required. Acceptance of the answer will not come soon, but it will.

Many of my fellow countrymen, including me, say that no nation should be required to be this resilient. Amidst all political and military confusion and befuddlement, amongst the morbid stares of adversity, it is the only thing we can do, till whatever time is required.

In a country politically and ethnically divided, with those divisions in all realistic probabilities increasing day by day, cricket is virtually perhaps the only thing we partake in together. All sports were perhaps meant for that, but in Pakistan, only cricket could encompass the national psyche.

The eleven men, who took the field, representing 180 millions of us, must be credited for doing so. It is not easy to do your job to your utmost potential when someone close has fallen. The reason they work hard for years is to play for their country, so their country can be proud of them. Their country, though not many of us may see it now, needed them to be strong. Results hardly matter in situations like these, but the will they displayed, certainly did just that. May that day never come, where they might need to be stronger.

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