Tag Archives: Pakistan

How easy or difficult is it to type #MeToo?

She was skimming through different apps on her phone that night. She suddenly noticed that a lady accused someone on social media of sexually harassing her and she immediately supported the lady fully with all her conviction. All hashtags came out and even though the man accused (apparently) wanted his side of the story to be heard and/ or demanded the lady to at least prove her allegations, she wasn’t willing to let go of her (already formed) judgement about who’s guilty & who’s the victim. ‘These things can never be proved & therefore the lady is right’, she tweeted.

The next morning on breakfast, her parents broke the news to her that her father’s job was being terminated on the allegations of sexual harassment from a female colleague of his at work.

How can they terminate my father like this without any proof or evidence?’ was the first sentence that came out of her mouth. A thought hit her like a lightening bolt. Last night’s tweets were flashing in front of her eyes. She wanted to stick to her stance and started giving counter arguments to herself mentally. ‘But I know my father. He’s not that kinda person’, she said to herself. ‘Well, that guy must also be someone’s father, brother, husband or son. His loved ones would also trust that he’s innocent just like I trust my father’, the counter thought was stronger. ‘But women need to have the independence to speak their minds out and raise their voice’ she made a strong point this time to herself. But as soon as she looked at her distressed father, she thought, ‘But no woman or man for that case should be allowed to make accusations against someone publicly without proof or evidence merely in the name of empowerment.’ She was still confused though as she still wanted to not let go of the stance she had taken in defense of that lady last night on Twitter. ‘Why would a woman come out with such a huge allegation? I mean, what does a woman have to gain from this? She puts everything at risk with this, right?’ she asks herself and immediately realises something. ‘She can be professionally jealous of my father at work. My father’s a fairly handsome man, it could be anything’ she thought. Both cases had now started to mix in her mind and the more she thought the more confused she got.

But according to general public, 90% of the times, the woman is right’ she told herself. ‘My dad’s case though HAS to be from the other 10%’, she tried putting her feet in two boats at the same time through this thought.

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Mud slinging is different from having the courage and power to speak up and fight against oppression. #MeToo might be the need of the hour in the West, but frankly speaking, we live in a society where even if a woman’s dupatta gets stuck in the seat of the bus and she mistakes it for the man sitting behind her in the male compartment pulling it to grab her attention or to harass her, the whole male compartment is going to beat the crap out of the accused without even giving him a chance to speak ONLY because it’s about a woman’s honour.

Sexual harassment in Pakistan has generally been discussed in recent times from only one perspective: a man sexually harassing a woman. In reality, and as we all know already, men are also subjected to sexual harassment and abuse at the hands of other men and women as well. They also feel equally shy to admit when an incident has happened with them where they were harassed, molested or abused by an aunt, uncle, neighbour, friend, teacher, maid, boss, van driver or guard when they were too young or even after they had reached maturity.

So, coming out with experiences related to harassment isn’t only difficult for women, it requires equal (if not more) amount of courage from men. While coming out with such experiences and details of such incidents is considered to be a sign of strength for women, the same is considered to be a sign of weakness or lack of masculinity for men. Where there’s no denying of the fact that generally, women are victims of harassment on more occasions than men and in a lot of cases women do not find the courage or support to express what had happened to them, male victims also find it extremely difficult to put their manliness at risk while coming out with their experiences. Therefore, even though the overall ratio of incidents of sexual harassment (of men to women) would still not be balanced by any means, the percentage of cases NOT REPORTED by male victims would still be pretty much on a higher side.

Therefore, #MeToo, for me, isn’t just confined to a particular gender or a limited set of cases. It goes beyond them.

Keeping gazes down for men and observing the required parda for women as instructed by ALLAH (SWT) is the only way for societies to get rid of this otherwise incurable malady.

Showing as much skin as you like is not empowerment and treating every woman on the road like she’s only there to quench the thirst of your eyes and nafs is not a privilege.

Islam teaches men to keep their eyes off ‘naa-mehram’ women let alone touching or groping them. The only problem is that Islam instructs men to do it regardless of a naa-mehram woman’s permission to touch or watch her even if she invites you to it or ‘doesn’t mind it’ justifying it through phrases like ‘Mera Jism, Meri Marzi’.

So, with all due respect, the argument of ‘Even if I wear nothing, nobody has the right to stare at me‘ is as invalid as ‘Do not step out of your homes if you don’t wanna get leered at.‘ A balance needs to be there from both genders and a distance needs to be kept from both sides.

You know where the line is between a friendly touch and an unwanted grope? To be brutally honest, there is no line and even if there was, that line is drawn even before the ‘friendly’ touch.

Stay in your limits. Give respect to others. Maintain distance from those whom ALLAH (SWT) has instructed you to maintain distance from and always know that you have the right to raise your voice ‘responsibly’.

– Hammad A. Mateen

 

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Syria, I’m sorry!

Syria

Najam Sethi: A bittersweet fruit of nepotism

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While Ali Sethi saved the first episode of Coke Studio 10 with ‘Ranjhish hi sahi, dil hi dukhanay k liye aa’, the PCB’s Board of Governors apparently took notice and recalled his father, Najam Sethi, as the Cricket Board’s Chairman. This is not the first time Sr. Sethi has found himself at the helm of affairs of the Pakistan Cricket Board. He has seesawed with Zaka Ashraf for the position in the past as well which definitely caused a lot of embarrassment for the country on the international front. Najam Sethi, because of his loyalty and affiliation with the Sharif’s and the absence of any sort of cricketing experience generally garners animosity from the masses. Senior Ex-cricketers aren’t also great fans of Sethi based on their opinion that only cricketers should run cricket boards (Even though Javed Miandad, during his stint as Director General, PCB proved many of them wrong). Ex-cricketers from recent times like Wasim Akram and Rashid Latif support Sethi as someone who can give Pakistan cricket a new direction.

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Najam Sethi’s affair with Pakistan Cricket began not even a month after his much debated ‘successful’ stint as the Caretaker Chief Minister of Punjab ahead of the 2013 general elections. He has been part of the PCB since then in one way or the other. During Shehryar Khan’s tenure as Chairman PCB, Sethi was considered as someone who was actually running the show from behind the scenes. His stance regarding Pakistan’s vote for the controversial Big 3 proposal when he was Chairman PCB received mixed reactions from all circles. Many argue that it was a decision that was ‘not emotional’ and pragmatic considering Pakistan’s position in world cricket at that time. Nevertheless, Pakistan is yet to bear fruits for that decision as the bilateral series that was promised between India and Pakistan as a result of Pakistan’s vote in favor of Big 3 has not materialized and neither has Pakistan yet been compensated financially as a result of India backing out.

The Pakistan Super League (PSL) has been Sethi’s biggest success so far. The grandeur with which both editions of the tournament have been organized is comparable to any major cricket league in the world and speaks volumes of Sethi’s efforts in restoring faith of the ICC and many of its member boards in Pakistan cricket. No matter what Imran Khan and PTI have to say, staging the final in Lahore for the 2nd edition of the league was one of the biggest achievements PCB had made in recent times. And even though most of the international players who were supposed to represent their respective sides in the final backed out, the amount of support Pakistan cricket received for successfully and peacefully organizing the final is immeasurable and will go a long way. It is because of that final that a home series against an ICC World XI is now on the cards and if the PCB is able to successfully pull that off (what a series that would be!), it will surely prove many critics wrong.

The world is about marketing and lobbying these days and even if that is a bad specialty to have, Sethi is most definitely good at it. Two Ex-PCB chairmen (Khalid Mahmood and Gen. (Retd.) Touqir Zia) have also backed Sethi for the Chairmanship of the board. Ironically, both had also not played cricket but are considered opinion leaders when it comes to cricket administration in Pakistan. Najam Sethi will however need to disconnect himself from politics (if that’s possible) and focus on building a team that creates a domestic cricket structure which can back initiatives like the PSL in the future. I’m personally not a fan of the man with the ‘Chirya’ but I do hope he takes Pakistan Cricket to new heights and brings back international cricket to the country. People miss the biryani at National Stadium.

Hammad A. Mateen

A conversation at the barber’s shop

Two Karachiites in conversation with each other at a barber’s shop while they wait for their turns:

First guy:              This ‘gormint’ is as useless as a punctured stepney.  I mean look at what just 2 days of rain has done to the city!

Second guy:       Mmmmm…. (Maintains his attention on skimming through images on the showbiz page of a newspaper without caring too much about the date of the paper)

First guy:              You know how difficult it was to just reach here from my place? It was like laboring my way through a swamp. Disgusting!!!

Second guy:       (Pulls his head out of the newspaper almost involuntarily) But you had to come here, didn’t you?

First guy:              Of course! What else could I have done at home? I was getting bored. The electricity’s playing hide and seek since the day the first drop of rain fell on those fragile electricity wires in our area. All thanks to our ‘gormint’.

Second guy:       So, basically you had nothing to do & you thought it would be a good idea to step out for a while and visit the barber’s? (Puts the newspaper away and turns his attention completely towards the first guy)

First guy:              (Affably) Yes!

Second guy:       And you ‘labored’ your way through the ‘swamp’ to reach here just because you were getting bored?

First guy:              (With the same zeal) Yes! And because I knew there would be electricity here.

Second guy:         How did you know there would be electricity here?

First guy:              Well, they have a different PMT for this area. I hook up the ‘kunda’ for my place from this very line. (Looks at the barber and winks at him with a smirk)

Second guy:         (Confused) So you didn’t hook up your ‘kunda’ today?

First guy:              Of course I did. But my cable operator doesn’t do that. So, I couldn’t watch TV.

Second guy:       Right! So, don’t you think the electricity crisis in the city may also have something to do with the ‘kunda’ culture that we have. I mean they do announce that areas with electricity theft and low recovery will experience load shedding.

First guy:              That’s all bullshit! How is my ‘kunda’ theft?

Second guy:         (Baffled) How is it not?

First guy:              It is theft when no one pays for the electricity I consume, right?

Second guy:          (Keenly) Yes…

First guy:              Well, I’m already over-charged for the units I consume legally. They can deduct the amount for the units I consume through my ‘kunda’ from there. The day they stop looting the consumers, all problems will be solved.

Second guy:         So, it is there fault completely?

First guy:              It sure is. The whole ‘Gormint’ is at fault. They can manage nothing properly. They’re just interested in getting their pockets filled. I mean, just look at these guys from the building control authority for instance.

Second guy:        What about them?

First guy:              I built an extra floor at my place and the day the whole floor got completed, they came over with their team to demolish it. They claimed that it was illegal.

Second guy:          Was it?

First guy:               So what if it was! I gave them what they wanted when I got the layout approved for it.

Second guy:          So you knew it was illegal and you still went ahead with it?

First guy:              That’s not the problem. The problem is that they knew what was happening all along and yet they didn’t say a word until it was all complete. They knew I had nowhere to go after that. Bloody blackmailers!

Second guy:          So, the problem lies with them, you say?

First guy:              Oh! So what do YOU think? It’s my fault?

Second guy:       (Retreating) Oh no! Why would I think that? Why would I possibly think that?

First guy:              See! They have crooks in disguise of ‘gormint’ officials. They can’t swallow the fact that someone can earn a little from their own assets.

Second guy:        Earn?

First guy:             Yeah! Someone must have tipped them off about me.

Second guy:       Tipped them off about you… building the extra floor?

First guy:             No, about me selling off portions of my house.

Second guy:       (Takes a look at the grinning barber who was busy clipping off another customer’s hair) Oh, boy! You sold off portions of your house. How many?

First guy:              I made 6 portions- sold 5 of them. Had to keep one for myself too, u know. (Chuckles)

Second guy:       So, you made 6 portions in a 120 sq. yard house and sold 5 of them. Impressive!

First guy:             (With excitement that had arrogance written all over it) Isn’t it? I can get you in touch with the contractor who did it. The guy can make Burj Khalifa over an Eighty Sq. Yard plot.

Second guy:       (As if he had heard enough) No, thanks. I’m good.  I think I should leave now. I will probably come back some other time for the haircut. (Stands up and puts his hand on the barber’s shoulder to indicate that he’s leaving)

First guy:            There’s a marsh outside waiting for you, remember? A gift from the local authorities to the citizens of the ‘CITY OF LIGHTS’. A blend of rain and sewerage water. They can’t even clear the gutters of this city efficiently, for God’s sake!

Second guy:       (Turns around to the first guy with a look of annoyance this time) That’s probably because the gutters are working overtime already with people like you illegally building and selling off portions to settle multiple families in accommodations that should ideally house a single household. A sewerage line installed to cater a single family is being flooded with excessive waste on a permanent basis. But hey! That’s not your mistake either, is it?

First guy:            (Pretentiously surprised) You mean it is???

Second guy:       (Frustrated) Oh no! It is all the government’s fault. All of it! Just that everyone sitting in those government offices and helm of affairs are a reflection of who we are. You, and me, and everyone around us. The ones accepting bribes are as at fault as the ones offering it. People who are not doing their jobs properly of enforcing law are as at fault as those who are breaking it. I’m literally fed up with people whining all the time about everything being everybody else’s responsibility while they sit back and be a part of the very corrupt system they complain about.

First guy:            (As calm as a millpond) Take it easy, ‘Imran Khan’! Have a glass of water. Or should I order you a cold drink? You’re next in line for the haircut and if I had to swim back home through a swamp, I’d do it with a nice clean haircut. Especially after I’d waited for it for quite some time. (Looks around at the other men waiting for their turns with the most brazen of giggles)

Second guy:       (Sarcastic) Don’t worry about me. I’ll order a boat.

First guy:            Fine, suit yourself! They’ve got Peak Factors on these days on boats too, by the way! (Bursts into laughter as the second guy storms out of the barber’s shop)

 

Hammad A. Mateen

سانس لینے کی اجازت مل جایئگی ؟

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٭ داڑھی والا آدمی دین کی بات کرے ٭

“دنیا: “اوۓ! طالبان۔

٭ داڑھی والا آدمی دنیا کی بات کرے ٭

“دنیا: “اوۓ! ڈِسکو مولوی۔

“دنیا: “تم نے ڈاڑھی کیوں رکھی ہے؟

“داڑھی والا آدمی: “سنت کی محبت میں۔

“دنیا: “اوہو!!! ہمیں تو جیسے ہے ہی نہیں سنت سے محبت۔ ہم تو کافر ہیں نہ؟

                                                                                  “دنیا: “اوۓ! تھوڑی ٹرم کرلے اسے، انسان لگے گا

“دنیا: “اوۓ! مونچھ کہاں گئی تیری؟ تو تبلیغی ہے؟

                                                                               “دنیا: “اوۓ!! پہلے حرکتیں ٹھیک کرلیتا پھر داڑھی رکھتا

“دنیا: “اوۓ! داڑھی رکھ کے جھوٹ بولتا ہے؟

“دنیا: “اوۓ! داڑھی رکھ کر لڑکی سے بات کرتا ہے؟

“دنیا” “اوۓ! داڑھی رکھ کر لڑکے سے بات کرتا ہے؟

“دنیا: “اوۓ! داڑھی رکھ کہ واش روم جاتا ہے؟

“دنیا: “اوۓ! داڑھی رکھ کہ جینز پہنتا ہے؟

                                                                                             “دنیا: “اوۓ! داڑھی رکھ کہ شادی کرتا ہے؟

                                                                                                         “دنیا: “اوۓ! داڑھی رکھ کہ سانس لیتا ہے

براۓ مہربانی داڑھی والے کو بھی اپنی طرح کا انسان سمجھیں اور اسکی غلطی پر خود مولوی بن کر اسکے لئے فتوے دینے سے اجتناب برتیں۔

!بہت شکریہ

اللہ پاک ہم سب کو ہدایت عطا فرمایئں۔۔۔ آمین

‘Sangbaaz’: a tribute to the 3rd uprising- Intifada of the East

The freedom movement in Indian-held Kashmir rejuvenated from the martyrdom of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani last year. Wani’s blood proved to serve as fuel to the spark of a new wave of resistance from the Kashmiri youth in the face of Indian atrocities in Jammu & Kashmir.  2017 marks the 70th year of Indian oppression over a valley, people of which drape the coffins of their martyrs with Pakistani flags and chant slogans like ‘Kashmir baneyga Pakistan!’ during funeral processions.

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Jammu & Kashmir, which has been a bone of contention between India and Pakistan continues to be denied the right of its people to decide about their fate by ‘the barbarous’ India. By attempting to savagely suppress the freedom movement of Kashmiri people, India is not only quite heinously violating human rights in the valley, but is also pretty shamelessly not complying to the UN Security Council Resolution on Kashmir which ironically came as a result of the case being taken to the United Nations by no one else but India itself.

People of Pakistan continue their support for their brothers and sisters in Kashmir in their struggle for freedom. 5th February each year reminds the world of this support through ‘Kashmir Day’. This year, Inter-Services Public Relations released Sangbaaz (The Stone Pelters)- a tribute to the valiant struggle of the youth of Jammu & Kashmir. The song highlights the inhuman methods (such as use of pellet guns) used by Indian forces in the valley to crush the freedom movement and the unending resilience of the men, women and children of Jammu & Kashmir.

Pakistanis across the world observe Kashmir Day today in order to announce to the world that no matter what happens, the people of Pakistan will not cease to show solidarity with their Kashmiri brothers and sisters and will keep pushing the international community to wake up from their slumber and give the Kashmiri people their right of self-determination.

Cheen le aankhein mujhse… Khwaab tu kaisay cheenayga?

Hammad A. Mateen

Junaid Jamshed: From Rock star to Rehemahullah

I was never a die-hard Vital Signs’ fan, I was more of a ‘Junooni’, always trying to imitate Ali Azmat’s flair and style of singing. I don’t have a cognizant memory for the reason of my admiration for ‘Dil Dil Pakistan’ like many others who were born in the mid or late 80’s. All I remember is that the first patriotic song that came to any Pakistani’s mind in those days was ‘Dil Dil Pakistan.’ It was like the unofficial national anthem of the country. Coming back to Vital Signs, it was never that band for me whose posters I would put on the walls or cupboards of my room. They were just there, a group of ‘Mummy Daddy boys’ consistently producing hit songs that were almost taken for granted by people like myself. It was only after the band disintegrated and Junaid Jamshed went solo when I felt his presence for the first time. Maybe that was the beauty of Vital Signs, that they were always liked or disliked as a band and not members of the band in isolation. Anyways, Junaid Jamshed was now ‘Junaid of Vital Signs’ (the original title of his first solo album too).

I had a thing about music and singing from my early childhood and I even considered taking up singing as a full time career at one point in time in my life (more about that some other time). As time passed, I became more aware about the intricacies of music and how this was not something as easy as people generally perceive it to be. I was still a Junoon fan but something about Junaid Jamshed’s voice and the songs that he sung kept knocking on the doors of my mind and musical senses. For reasons unknown, I started listening to old Vital Sign tracks all over again just to re-explore what I had missed in those days. ‘Aitebar bhi’ suddenly became one of my all-time favorites (specially the unplugged version). After Vital Signs, ‘Tumhara aur mera naam’ presented a challenge for me of sorts somehow as a singer whenever I tried singing it and then came ‘Dil ki baat’ and ‘Keh do jo bhi mann mein aey’ and by that time Junaid Jamshed had gained the respect and acceptance from my mind as a musician that he had already earned through his work a decade ago from both the fraternity and music lovers across the globe. And then things started changing.

The more I wanted of Junaid Jamshed, the more effort I had to make. His appearances became rare and news started circulating about him exiting the music scene. Honestly, I wasn’t too bothered about him leaving the music scene because by that time, the music scene in Pakistan had taken on a new shape and there were plenty of new comers who could carry the torch ahead very well from him. What bothered me more was my curiosity to know why he was choosing to call it a day from the music world. I remember watching him judge the first ‘Pepsi Battle of the Bands’ finale where Entity Paradigm (EP) gave a mind-blowing performance by fusing Junaid Jamshed’s and Strings’ ‘Tu hai kahan’ with ‘Aazmaa’. Junaid Jamshed had a stubble at that time but all I could care about was him being part of the judges’ panel and appreciating the new kids on the block. Junaid Jamshed finally announced his dissociation with music and I was again looking for reasons why someone would do that after seeing so much fame and fortune.

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It was this curiosity that made me follow him even more, almost inadvertently. I started exploring religion myself. Even though this exploration was triggered by Junaid Jamshed, I never followed him blindly into it and took an unbiased route making sure that my decisions and learnings would be my own and not based on anybody else’s experiences. I didn’t know at that time that he had done the same himself. With the passage of time, I kept on getting more and more impressed by the level of faith and confidence Junaid Jamshed had on ALLAH (SWT) and the sacrifices he had made based on that very faith. ALLAH (SWT) rewarded him at each step. He got tested and rewarded and this had almost become cyclic for him. He would never lose the very public attention he had put on the line with his decision of parting ways from the world of music.

For reasons that are incomparable to a great degree, I would associate myself to him. My association though would never be based or even slightly bear resemblance to the goodness that Junaid Jamshed had as a person and a Muslim. I would find myself in situations where almost every time I could relate with how that great man must have felt in those situations. Situations where I would speak a little too much in excitement about Deen and would then realize that I shouldn’t speak without asking elders or Ulama. The constant struggle that I face each minute of my life against the will to return to a life that has no-holds-barred or at least a little more ‘independence’ to do stuff that I would normally refrain myself from doing now. My constant battles with conceit.

I guess, there are tens of thousands if not millions of people out there like me who feel the same. I speak for myself here though. But as soon as I associate myself and my situation with Junaid bhai, I immediately realize how immensely different my situation is with him. It is only similar till the time I accidentally land into it. After that, me and Junaid bhai share completely contrasting circumstances. Mine, by the grace of ALLAH (SWT) are limited to a very few people while Junaid bhai had magnifying glasses from millions scrutinizing him at each second of his life. Everything he said or did or planned to do was examined and commented upon by people from all walks of life- people who barely knew or understood what he was talking about in the first place. He had carried that extra-baggage with him. But the best part about him was that he never expressed any sort of despondence about it. He forgave all and constantly asked for forgiveness from everyone and kept walking on the road which he believed led to Jannah and the forgiveness of the Al-Mighty.

The best Ramadan of my life so far has been one in which I would listen to his nasheeds all day and night. ‘Jalwa-e-Jaanaa’, ‘Muhammad (SAW) ka roza’, ‘Mera Dil badal de’ and ‘Ilahi teri choakhat par’ would bring out tears from my eyes and they still do. I would put my children to sleep reciting ‘Ae ALLAH, Tu hi ata Tu jood-o-sakhaa’. I would envy him in a good way for the love that he would get from Ulama and renowned scholars from not only Pakistan but from across the globe. He was ‘laadla’ of all Ulama-e-Karaam. Be it Hazrat Hakeem Akhtar Sb. (RA) or Mufti Taqi Usmani Sb. (DB) or Pir Zulfiqar Sb. (DB) and not to forget Hazrat Maulana Tariq Jameel Sb. (DB). Our Ramadan would be incomplete without him and I must confess that I am yet to see an anchor handle scholars and audience from so many different sects on a single forum with such a cultured and tolerant approach like Junaid bhai used to.

I do not think I have shared so much personal detail in any of my pieces till date. And I am not sure if I will ever do that again (ALLAH (SWT) knows best). But this is for Junaid bhai (RA). An elder brother to so many like me. A man who became a source of reigniting our love for ALLAH (SWT) and Prophet Muhammad (SAW). A normal human being who was like us and yet so different from all of us because of the choices he made in his life and the efforts that he made to stick to those choices.

He was surely one of a kind and someone who made his journey from JJ to Junaid bhai and from a Rock star to Rehemahullah.

May ALLAH (SWT) forgive him and grant him with Jannah of the highest level- Aameen.

Hammad A. Mateen

 

22 Memories from the ‘Kirmich’ ball era

Watching the Pakistan team bat against Australia this morning in the 1st test match somehow made me wish if every Pakistani batsman could get 2 chances to bat in each innings. The thought, although impractical, opened the doors to many of my own memories from the childhood days when I used to play tape ball or ‘kirmich’ ball (as we used to call it) cricket quite regularly. That would surely have been a format where if one team was a player short, one batsman from that team could’ve been allowed to bat twice. This, and so much more is so far from the real world of cricket but still, even today, many good hard ball cricketers give a lot of credit for their success to this type of cricket.

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In this piece, I am sharing 22 of the most interesting memories of ‘kirmich’ ball cricket that I have. Some of these are not only hilarious but also bizarre to a certain extent when compared with the actual rules of the game. Whichever way you look at it, it was and still is the golden period of many Pakistanis’ and specially Karachiite’s lives.

For me, time when we played ‘Kirmich’ ball cricket was the time:

  1. When it was considered a taboo for someone to open the batting and bowl the first over.
  2. When the most coveted fielding position was to keep wickets.
  3. When Keeping wickets would be called ‘Keepering.’
  4. When the last batsman could bat alone without a partner on the other end.
  5. When the last batsman needed to run 2 in order to be counted as a single.
  6. When walls were used for ‘Deewaar-Catch’ with the most amazing stipulation of using only one hand.
  7. When a one hand catch would also be considered legitimate if it was caught on a single bounce aka ‘One-Tip Out’.
  8. When ‘Heads or Tails’ was first ‘Chaand ya Chaap’ and then ‘Quaid-e-Azam ya Masjid’.
  9. When a Nitto Tape was the most desirable winning prize for the whole team.
  10. When there was a whole science associated with putting tape onto a ball.
  11. When it wasn’t necessary to have enough players to form two teams. ‘Numbering’ would then be the format of the game.
  12. When batting numbers would be decided by one person guessing the number of fingers another person would have opened behind his back over his shoulder.
  13. When stumps would be the distance between two pebbles with a hypothetical height.
  14. When umpires would be from the batting side and the umpire would be eager to get a bat himself.
  15. When regulations would be stricter than the ICC when it came to the bending of the arm for a bowler.
  16. When a batsman had the right to give a ‘Batta Call’ to the umpire when he could measure the arm bend of the bowler exceeding the allowed limit through his bare eyes.
  17. When the bowlers could object on the batsman covering all the stumps. ‘Wicket chor k khelo, bhai!
  18. When due the lack of fielders or unsuitable terrain, play could be limited to offside or onside only.
  19. When batsmen didn’t need to run when the ball hit the wall behind the wicket keeper as that would automatically add a single or double to the scorecard.
  20. When ‘Ghar mein jana’ could either deduct runs or result in the fall of a wicket.
  21. When a player could be substituted by another permanently on need basis.
  22. When the ball hitting the body of the batsman was as good as hitting the stumps (One Body Out).

Some of the above are not only memories but rules that still prevail in these times. Tape ball cricket is a sport and passion in its own right.  For all those guys out there playing Tape Ball cricket regularly, keep rocking and keep this game alive.

Hammad A. Mateen

 

Policy & Procedures: Do organizations really mean it?

The second half of the 20th century brought with it a start to revolutionary changes in organizational management styles. Emphasis started being given to proper management structures where a concept of shared ownership was developed and policies opened the top managements’ doors for everyone at the workplace. Management suddenly became a science and terms like data mining, forecasting, and decision analysis etc. became the talk of the town. Business had new rules- rules that were governed by the principles set by management theories. Systems, structures and frameworks had started being developed and/ or adopted. A new breed of professionals emerged onto the scene and they called themselves ‘Consultants’. They would help organizations open up their eyes to see what was happening in the outside world. This awakening though would cost organizations fortunes. But, companies felt it was the need of the hour and in some cases, an ‘in’ thing to hire a consultant and have systems implemented. There was a small problem to all of this though- humans.

I participated in a training in Osaka back in 2012 which was a trainer’s trainer course for the Management Training Program (MTP). What struck me the most in Japan was an astonishing contrast. It was a contrast between understanding human beings and implementing strong systems. For many, it may not come across as a contrast. It may not even come across as relevant for a few. But what was interesting for me to observe was the presence of such strong and robust systems and infrastructures in every field and walk of life there and yet the heart of the management training program was to understand human beings better. I think this is because of the underlying fact that all systems and policies are useless until those upon whom these policies have an effect on are understood completely encompassing every facet of their personalities. Human psychology is a complex subject and those who are students of this subject would agree to me on that. Every human being is a different person, with different needs, reactions and patterns of thinking. And to categorize them is a task that only has a start and no definite end to it.

Frameworks and policies therefore fail to take on a robust shape in countries like ours where importance is given to personalities more than the system itself. How many times have we seen organizations that are run on a system that completely depends on one or two individuals who are sitting at the helm of affairs?
It is actually unfair to call this kind of setting a ‘system’ in the first place. These are work environments where educated, qualified professionals boast about the prevalent management theories of their times or maybe even those that are predicted for the times to come. Yet, in effect, their own organizations or departments lack seriousness in the very same areas. Systems and structures are merely used as disposable tools for short term benefits that are often even limited to personal gains instead of organizational advantage.

Change is the only thing that is consistent in these kind of organizations. The primary reason behind this is the on-going violation of policies in the name of amendments/ enhancements. The interesting part is that this is led/ allowed from the top. Policies and systems in such organizations are intentionally set on weak foundations so that the same can be used against personnel by putting the blame on them for certain failures. I have seen policies that have room for exceptional cases ending up being used in way that it becomes difficult for one to distinguish between a rule and exception. Policies that are already made flexible are stretched to greater lengths and in many cases even revised frequently in order to entertain items on the wish list of those who disagree with what their predecessors had been doing- even if that means overwhelming any good practices. Dependence on institutional memory instead of concrete systems is not something that organizations should be proud of.

In this time, it is considered shameful for someone to concede that any of the work done by their predecessors was correct and on-track. This is basically because of the pressures ineffably and sometimes even explicitly put on new comers when bringing them on-board. These pressures push individuals to either re-brand the system that was already in place (discrediting all the work previously done) or start all over again reinventing the wheel. They need to do this in order to please egos of the people sitting at C-level positions in organizations who actually brought them on-board in the first position. It is sad but true.

From modern organizational management styles to pleasing egos, the work environment of many organizations specially in the sub-continent has generally deteriorated over time and systems and frameworks only serve the purpose of pleasant visual professional packaging and sometimes helps the organization get by compliance issues. Theories keep pouring in everyday and most of them may also be effective in reality. However, if there is a will to make a difference, one must adopt a mindset where scopes are defined, systems are strengthened and structures are allowed to mature and be followed. This requires consistency on both personal and professional levels and a control over one’s will to mold the system as per his/ her personal desires. Maybe that is what the world generally calls ‘professionalism’.

Hammad A. Mateen

King Misbah: The Crisis Man for Pakistan Cricket

He’s made Pakistan cricket boring. They’ve become predictably consistent with their performances under his leadership. The flamboyance that rode on erraticism is somehow missing from the test team now. They have started playing methodically and there seems to be a plan and a strategy being followed in each game and for each situation. Misbah-ul-Haq has changed the way test cricket is played by Pakistan.

The captain of the no.1 test team in the world did not always enjoy running on a smooth terrain though. It has continuously been a steep climb for Misbah with relentless hard work and thankless persistence.  The Misbah that we so conceitedly cheer for now was once the most ridiculed sportsman of this country. He is the hero of a story that only unfolded nearing its end revealing its protagonist. He’s that survivor on a sinking ship who not only makes it himself but also rescues hundreds of others only to be recognized after they’ve made it to the shore. His is a tale of someone standing up every single time after being repeatedly knocked down to the floor by the world. Misbah-ul-Haq is the unsung champion of Pakistan cricket. It is about time we look back at this great sportsman’s journey.

After making his first class debut back in 1998-99, Misbah had to wait till 2001 to make his international test debut and till another year after that (2002) to feature in his first ODI match, both against New Zealand. His entry into international cricket wasn’t one that could guarantee him a permanent place in the side though and we kept on getting glimpses of Misbah every now and then in the team after that. He wasn’t a regular in the side until 2010. Interestingly, during that time Misbah was not selected to play a single international match in any format of the game for Pakistan between 2004 and 2007. Even in 2004, he was selected to play only one ODI.

It was the inaugural T20 cricket world cup back in 2007 however that made Misbah-ul-Haq a name known to everyone across the cricketing world. Only that it wasn’t the way Misbah would’ve liked himself to be made famous. That famous paddle scoop in the last over of the final against India ruined everything that had happened before that. Misbah averaged an outstanding 54.50 in the 7 matches that he featured in with 3 not outs and 2 fifties. All these runs came at a strike rate of nearly 140 runs per 100 balls. Even in the final match, Misbah walked in to bat with Pakistan 4 down for 65. It was from there till the 3rd ball of the 19th over that Misbah stood like a rock in front of the Indian bowling line and scored crucial 43 runs off 38 balls hitting 4 massive sixers. Sadly, none of that has frequently been recalled and the only thing Misbah had been made famous for was that last shot.

misbah-3

As far as T20 Internationals are concerned, what many people do not know is that Misbah-ul-Haq till date ranks number 1 as far as batting average is concerned. Misbah averages 37.52 in the 39 T20Is he has played for Pakistan with a strike rate of 110.20. On the domestic front, he captains Islamabad United in the Pakistan Super League which is also incidentally the current champion there.

When it comes to ODIs, Misbah is disreputably remembered for his slow batting in the Semi Final of the World Cup 2011 played against India which Pakistan lost. He was given the title of ‘Tuc Tuc’ following that innings and all blame was put on his shoulders for the team’s loss and exit from the mega event.  What critics tend to ignore though is the contribution this prolific batsman made for Pakistan towards reaching the Semi Final of the tournament in the first place. Misbah, with 3 fifties in the 6 innings that he played in the tournament was the highest run scorer for Pakistan averaging a marvelous 49.60 runs per innings.

He has also captained Pakistan in ODIs. His captaincy record in the 50 over format may not be as decorated as other successful captains of the world, but some of the notable accomplishments there include becoming the 1st (and till date only) captain from a South Asian touring side to lead his side to victory in an ODI series against South Africa in South Africa. This happened in 2013 just one year after Misbah lifted the Asia Cup for Pakistan (for the 2nd time after 12 years) at the Sher-e-Bangla Cricket Stadium at Mirpur, Bangladesh.

Coming back to 2010, when Pakistan cricket was arguably at its lowest after the spot fixing scandal, Misbah was given the responsibility to lead Pakistan in tests. Pakistan ranked 6th in the ICC Test rankings at that time. It was from there that Misbah-ul-Haq, in his own cerebral way started his journey as a leader to make Pakistan top the rankings for the first time this year. Misbah so far as led Pakistan in 46 test matches. Pakistan has won 22 out of these 46 test matches with a winning percentage of 47.82 and a losing percentage of only 28.26 making him the most successful test captain for Pakistan till date.

As a batsman he has proved to be a sportsman who blossoms with respect to his individual performances once given the additional responsibility of leading his side. In the 65 test matches that he has played so far for Pakistan, Misbah averages 33.60 as a batsman in games where he has played as a batsman only. The average however rises to an astounding 54.93 in the 46 games in which he has captained Pakistan.

He holds the record for the fastest test fifty (off 21 balls only) and is 2nd in the list for the fastest hundred in test cricket (off 56 balls only) sharing the spot with the great Sir Viv Richards only behind New Zealand’s Brendon McCullum who achieved this record in just 54 balls against the Aussies. Incidentally, Misbah also slaughtered the Aussies for both his fastest century and fifty.

As a captain, he was named as the ‘Best Test Captain of the Year 2015’ by The Daily Telegraph and no eyebrows were raised when this was announced. Misbah was called ‘One of the great captains- ever’ by the renowned British newspaper.

All that with not a single test match in which Misbah could have the opportunity to lead Pakistan on Pakistani soil. Pretty much sums up how increasingly difficult it would have been for him to take over a side that is under the microscope for all the wrong reasons and is not even blessed with the luxury of performing in front of its home crowd.

Misbah-ul-Haq is no Imran Khan, he’s neither Shahid Afridi nor Wasim Akram. He’s probably someone like Inzamam-ul-Haq if you must compare. But even in that comparison he’s not as naturally gifted as Inzamam was. Come to think of it, Misbah-ul-Haq is just Misbah-ul-Haq. His tenacity, strength of will, mental & physical fitness and extraordinary leadership skills make him stand out from the crowd.

This piece is not just my admiration for Misbah-ul-Haq’s prodigious services for this country but is also a humble effort to make amende honorable to the great man for all the disrespect this nation has shown towards him. He’s a legend and I most genuinely hope he gets one of the most respectful farewells this country has ever scene for a sportsman retiring from his game.

-Hammad A. Mateen