Tag Archives: Pakistan

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 ؟

beard

٭ 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.

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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

Who will pay the ‘Qisaas’ of those who died yesterday?

While the country was busy in the Ehtesaab Rally and the Qisaas March, an innocent kid and a lady lost their lives in Lahore and Rawalpindi yesterday as both of the deceased could not reach the hospital on time for their lives to be saved. A few months back, another little angel was sent back to the heavens in her father’s arms in Karachi when Baby Bhutto’s protocol denied Bisma’s parents’ entry to Civil Hospital where Bilawal was inaugurating a Trauma Center; an inauguration indeed that came with a trauma for Faisal Mohammad Hussain (Bisma’s father) and his family. These are just 3 of the many deaths on roads, in ambulances and rickshaws this country has seen over the past so many years where politics, politicians and the elite of this country have cost the common man their lives. The very common man that makes them what they are through filling ballot boxes with votes for them for which they come begging to their doors before elections. The very common man that speaks in their favor in countless debates at roadside hotels, barber shops, meat markets and the social media without having met them even once in their lives. I wonder who will be held accountable (whose ehtesaab will be carried out) for yesterday’s deaths and who will pay the Qisaas?

I am all for fighting against corruption and bringing back the country’s looted money to where it belongs, but while we are at it, we also need to learn a few more things from the very nations that we aspire to become one day. That goes for both the ruling parties and those in opposition. This also implies to the bureaucracy in the country. Most importantly, this also holds true for the common man themselves.

Saying no to VIP culture is the ‘in’ thing these days. We see people taking out their cell phones and recording videos of such incidents and posting them online. Some of them have gone viral as well. But are we as a nation mentally sold to the idea of eliminating a VIP culture that also includes us? Are we aware and conscious of the fact that at some level and in some cases we may also be the VIPs ourselves and that while shouting out a ‘Say no to VIP culture’ slogan, we may actually be acting a little hypocritical . You see whenever we talk about a ‘No VIP’ culture, we’re generally talking about those who we consider VIPs and the influential strata of the society. What we tend to forget very easily is the level to which this disease has already spread. This includes, going to banks for payments and asking a friend who works over there to relieve us from the hassle of standing in a queue. This also involves people driving cars considering those on motorbikes inferior and therefore not important enough to be given way on the road. These are examples where we, the common people and citizens of this country take pride in breaking the rules and feeling special.

Generally, the fight against VIP Culture is more out of us being jealous than anything else. We have trouble seeing others being given VIP treatment while deep down inside we hanker ourselves to be treated the same way and whenever we get the slightest of chance of to do that, we make sure we do not let go of it.

So the next time you say ‘No to VIP culture’, make sure you believe in it and are ready to implement it in your own lives as well.

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Make way! Important people are passing. Photo Courtesy: Insider.pk

As far as the elite of our society go, I completely understand the security situation of the country and also realize how valuable your lives are in comparison to a normal person walking on the streets. After all, you are the people who work day and night to protect, serve and lead us towards a brighter, better future. Despite all my understanding and the trust that I have in you no matter how contrasting the on-ground reality is, I’m still not comfortable watching people losing their lives just because you were busy working towards their well-being. You can do your Dharnas and Jalsas and Rallies and the common man will continue to keep filling stadia and flooding the roads but just give a little consideration towards not hampering the routine life of the same common man; the cobbler on the roadside who all of a sudden finds himself in the way of the rally, the ambulance on the way to the hospital with a patient in critical condition that is stuck either due to your VIP movement or road blockages, or the fruit vendor who earns only enough in a day to survive the next day and has to shut down his business as he is seen to be a potential security threat for the Jalsa. These are the people who only get negatively impacted from the positivity that you wish to spread through your actions.

Societies that we look up to and desire to be like uphold, promote, and practice equality, diversity and inclusion at all levels. This is something that demands equal amount of effort and seriousness from all stakeholders including government, opposition, bureaucracy, civil society and general public. Those who lead and those who follow need to accept the same set of rules and decide once and for all not to compromise on principles.

After all, those who block the traffic for VIP movements or place obstacles on the roads are also part of the same society from which both the ones for whom the traffic is blocked and those who suffer due to it belong.

Let’s start from ourselves and mend our ways. Take small steps but all in the right direction.

-Hammad A. Mateen

No, Misbah is not the solution

The pounding taken by the Pakistan team in last night’s ODI against England didn’t come as a surprise for me. I mean it was a team currently ranked 9 playing against a side that is no. 5 in the world. The difference was there to be seen on the field. England outclassed Pakistan like they have been doing throughout the ODI series so far in every department. They’ve been good in the field, exceptional with the bat and much better than us whenever they’ve come on to bowl. Apart from all the records that tumbled yesterday, truth be told, Pakistan has been playing ODI cricket in a pretty similar fashion over the last 2 years. In the last 24 months, Pakistan has played 41 ODIs winning only 15 out of them (a winning percentage of 36.5) out of which 8 victories came against sides like Ireland, UAE and Zimbabwe. These stats tell a sad but true story of how the men in green have gone about their business in the 50 over format of the game in recent times. Pakistan will probably end up playing the qualifying round for the 2019 world cup this time and by the look of things, they may have to pull up their socks there as well.

Having said that, I am not very pleased with the negative comments that the social media is being flooded with regarding the team. People have started questioning Mickey Arthur’s coaching and the PCB management for their decision making. This is the same PCB that manages the no. 1 test team in the world and the same Mickey Arthur is given charge of Misbah XI as their coach. What we need to understand here is the nature of both (or even 3) formats of the game. There’s been a lot of talk doing the rounds of asking Misbah to come back to the ODIs and turn around the team’s fortune. I disagree with this notion based on the difference in the nature of Test & ODI cricket. Even under Mishab’s leadership in ODIs over the last 2 years, Pakistan had won on 5 out of 13 ODIs (38% matches won). Compare that with Azhar’s captaincy and you’ll find that he has led Pakistan to victory in 8 out of the 23 ODIs in which he has captained the side (35% watches won). Not a lot of difference there, is it?

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The difference however can very clearly be seen when it comes to comparing individual performances of Misbah and Azhar in matches where they’ve captained the side and in those where they’ve played under other captains. Misbah has excelled with respect to his individual performances when leading the side while Azhar’s batting average has taken a dip since he’s taken over the captaincy. This is not a good sign for any international player and indicates (in a way) that the added responsibility of leadership is hampering the athlete’s individual performance. Even greats like Sachin Tendulkar have had performance issues when they also had to think about leading the whole pack on the field. Misbah is definitely as exception. However, it all comes down to match results and that is where he has been not too different from Azhar. Going back to Misbah would also mean repeating the history of sports in Pakistan where legends like Miandad, Jansher Khan and Shahbaz Ahmad (Sr.) have been recalled to rejuvenate their respective sports in the country ending up in only making a mockery out of these greats instead. I’d rather keep Misbah where he is and salute him for what he’s doing for Pakistan in the toughest and most original format of the game.

Let’s talk about Sarfaraz now. Sarfaraz has only led Pakistan once in ODI matches and that too was against Zimbabwe back in October last year. A low scoring match which Pakistan won by 7 wickets. Other than that, we have only seen him captain the Quetta Gladiators in the inaugural edition of the PSL early this year where he did pretty well as a captain but with a team that was loaded with talented superstars like Kevin Pietersen, Luke Wright & the great Kumar Sangakkara. For me, Sarfaraz may be the right choice to captain Pakistan in the ODIs but that is more out of my admiration for his talent and passion than any of his proven leadership skills.

Wherever the on-going series against England (which is already lost) goes from here, one thing is for sure, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) will have to take serious steps and start working towards lifting this side up again. The inversely proportional performances and ratings of the Test and ODI sides do not reflect well on the overall condition of the game that is being played and managed in the country today. Experimenting with fresh blood is always something that sides do in order to build bench strength. However that need to be done in a controlled manner and not in a way such as where Nawaz and Hassan Ali are brought into the side and are straight away thrown to the dogs. This will only hamper their confidence and ruin their game for the rest of their careers.

Small but concrete steps need to be taken to lift up the side. The nation needs to stand behind the team when the side is sailing through rough waters. These are difficult times but with the talent and potential this country has, we will inshaALLAH emerge as champions again just like we’ve come to the top as the best test team in the world.

Here’s a little trivia for you all as I conclude this piece: On the same social media, ‘King Misbah’ was once ‘Tuk Tuk’ and the most ridiculed sportsman of the country.

Hammad A. Mateen

Are we wasting Shehz-fie?

He’s also called the Pakistani Virat Kohli (minus a little talent and Anushka Sharma by the side of course). He’s young, stylish and confident, to the extent of even being cocky at times. He’s a selfie addict and also considered as Boom Boom Afridi’s best buddy in the side.

Apart from all that is said, Ahmed Shehzad is Pakistan’s 216th international test and 172nd one-day player. In terms of ODIs specifically, Shehzad is the 3rd highest run-scorer for Pakistan in the last 12 months after Muhammad Hafeez and Azhar Ali. In T20’s he’s been the highest run-scorer in the last 12 months for Pakistan making 200 runs in 8 innings with 1 out of the only 4 fifties scored by Pakistani players during that time. Combining all 3 formats of the game in international cricket, Ahmed Shehzad is the 5th highest run getter for Pakistan over the last 12 months. His ODI career average is better than Muhammad Hafeez, Asad Shafiq, Sohaib Maqsood, Sarfaraz Ahmed and even the freshly retired Younis Khan. In ODIs in the UAE, he averages better than Misbah, Azhar, Sarfaraz, Shoaib, Umar Akmal and Younis Khan. By the way, Shehzad’s average in ODIs over the last 12 months is just 2 runs less than Virat Kohli over the same period.

Having said all that, the selfie king from Lahore still could not be able to make it to the final eleven in 3 out of the 4 ODIs against England in UAE in the recently concluded series which Pakistan lost. One couldn’t understand the reason why Shehzad wasn’t featured in any of the first 3 games and why such a bizarre team combination was persisted with. The Team management was happy opening the innings with Azhar Ali (who made a total of 82 runs in 4 innings) along with Bilal Asif and Babar Azam over the first 3 games, they were happy playing 2 wicket keepers in the playing eleven. What they were not happy somehow with was Ahmed Shehzad playing in the side.

“Ahmed was dropped from the ODIs as he wasn’t needed in the playing eleven,” said Haroon Rasheed. Why wasn’t he needed? Were they happy with their mediocre performance especially in the 2nd and 3rd ODI? Or was Pakistan’s track record of winning ODI series in the UAE so great that they could risk experimenting as much as they could.

I am in no way advocating the fact that Ahmed Shehzad could’ve surely won Pakistan the ODI series against England single-handedly had he played in all the games but the fact of the matter is that having a player in the pool with talent as much as Shehzad has and not giving him consistent chances to play is only going to hurt Pakistan in the long run. Ahmed Shehzad is no A.B. De Villiers or even Virat Kohli for that matter but neither A.B. De Villiers nor Virat Kohli became what they are today without getting consistent chances to play for their side and support from the team management.

Attitude issues are with a lot of players, but it is the management’s responsibility to either fix the issues through counseling or taking concrete action against the individual and accepting the very fact that there are issues to start off with. Shoaib Akhtar is a prime example of a super talent wasted due to the fact that he wasn’t ‘handled with care’. The Rawalpindi express could’ve done much more for Pakistan had he been managed properly by the team managements and boards at that times. Andrew Symonds on the other hand is another example where Cricket Australia took concrete action against him once and for all for violating their code of conduct.

Waqar Younus is a great ambassador of cricket and a true legend for Pakistan, however he needs to understand that he is a coach now and not a player and players do demand and deserve to be treated in a certain manner by the team management. It’s high time that the board looks in the matter seriously why only Waqar Younus has issues with several players in the side, be it Ahmed Shehzad, Shahid Afridi, Sarfaraz Ahmed or Younis Khan. It’s ok not to succumb to player power and pressure, but ‘coach power’ isn’t something that should also be encouraged in a side.

Hammad A. Mateen