#360view: Pakistan terror blasts put PSL into perspective

Barnaby Read 00:33 18/02/2017
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  • The country has been rocked this past week.

    So far it has been a case of when it rains, it pours for the Pakistan Super League.

    And the rain’s interference on Friday’s matches was the current state of both the country and this league in a nutshell as forces beyond their control continued to push back just as it looked like the PSL was moving ahead.

    The cases of spot fixing and grave acts of terrorism back home have cast a shadow over the tournament, Pakistan’s cricketing beckon call to the homeland being torn at from every angle.

    It has left the competition in dire need of an injection of positivity, for organisers and those back in Pakistan coming to terms with the state of their country and the threats within their communities that aims to bring Pakistan to its knees.

    In Sharjah on Friday, it just about did that, in spite of rain showers and sandstorms as thousands of fans streamed to the stadium. As so often is the case when it comes to Pakistan cricket, it was no easy ride and the hours of delays were sapping on those in attendance.

    The broad smiles, cheering of every ball and partisan shirt wearing all coming as a communal welcome relief and all in the face of adversity, in this case the foul weather soured the best crowd of the tournament to date.

    Fear, frustration and fury seem common feelings among both those in press box and those turning up to see the PSL in hope of some kind of relief or distraction from a desperate situation in the country.

    Islamabad United media officer Ahmer Naqvi tweeted his hopelessness at the whole affair, an affable, cool man clearly past the point of faith in the system and deeply hurting while reflecting on news back home.

    Another journalist on Friday wore an all black salwar kameez in mourning of the latest terrorist blast on a shrine to Sufi saint Lal Shahbaz Qalandar in Sehwan, his home town in the southern Sindh province.

    It is a situation alien to most outside of the country but brings out immense empathy towards those looking to work and watch cricket as a release while unwanted terrorists wage war on their country.

    It also brings perspective.

    Unfortunately, the PSL has so far failed to deliver much other than negative headlines thanks to the spot fixing scandal of last week and the constant push towards a final in Lahore that looks increasingly like being not worth the risk.

    There is so much at stake for Pakistan cricket, organisers desperate to bring cricket home and deliver a feel good story that the nation craves.

    But, after the past week of increased tension and ISIS’ insatiable desire to abolish anything outside of its own warped thinking, it is looking an impossible act.

    This past week's attacks in Pakistan

    • February 13 - Two police dead defusing bomb in Quetta
    • February 13 - At least 13 dead in Lahore bomb blast
    • February 15 - Two killed in Peshawar suicide attack
    • February 16 - Sehwan attack kills 88 people

    Yes, you want to show these monsters that they will never win.

    Yes, you want cricket to return to Pakistan.

    Yes, you want a heaving, swaying Gadaffi Stadium and yes, we want to tell that story.

    But, at what cost? The PSL is an obvious target for those looking to cause destruction and create chaos but there is no reason why more people should suffer in this pursuit and it certainly shouldn’t be used as a political tool.

    Cricket of this magnitude and with the best local and foreign players, insha’Allah, will return to Pakistan but when the country is ready and able to provide safe passage to those travelling to the country and, most importantly, its own people.

    Unfortunately, the tragic events of this past week suggest it is unable to.

    And despite sports ability to bring all manner of people together in a common interest and ability to remain neutral and without political narrative, there are far more important things at stake than a game of cricket.