By Naveed Alam Siddiqui
The spot-fixing scandal which shook the foundations of Pakistan cricket in 2010 has become a never-ending nightmare. Most of us thought it ended after the culprits, Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Aamer were banned by the International Cricket Council (ICC), followed by their conviction and jail sentence by British courts. However, this scandal continues to make headlines to date.
I read a blog in The Express Tribune where the writer appealed for their comeback, his line of reasoning mainly being that Pakistan has exonerated bigger criminals than these three cricketers and that match-fixing happens all over the world and it’s not a grave crime.
I cannot speak on the behalf of everybody, but as far as I am concerned, I would never want these three cricketers to ever be seen in Pakistani colours again.
The reasons are simple: they were not representing a team in a second degree football league; they were representing their nation at the highest level of cricket. Their ignominious acts not only brought shame to Pakistan, but also disgraced to the game.
It amazes me how can one still advocate the case for these cricketers as never before there were such clear indications and proof that certain parts of the match were orchestrated.
We need to set an example so that never again anybody the audacity to even think about selling his nation.
A lesson should be learnt from America, where the legendary Lance Armstrong, seven-time Tour de France champion and a global icon for his courage in fighting cancer and making a comeback to the sport, was stripped of all his titles for taking-performance enhancing drugs.
Armstrong had already retired from cycling, allegations against him and the matter could have easily been slipped under the carpet, but an example was made out of him.
As far as Pakistani cricket is concerned, it has moved on despite of the horrors of 2010. Winning the Asia Cup, beating the world No 1 side and beating India in India demonstrates just that. We have some very good future prospects in Nasir Jamshed, Junaid Khan and Asad Shafiq.
There is no need of the players who betrayed their country for money, despite being the highest paid sportsmen.
I know that in a country like Pakistan where from politicians to army generals, everyone is involved in corruption, it might seem unfair, but it’s not. In a way I consider them lucky that they haven’t been jailed in Pakistan as the shame they have brought to their fellow countrymen, especially those living overseas, is unforgivable.
The embarrassment overseas Pakistanis have faced is unimaginable. I was told by a family member settled in Canada, who is also a devoted Pakistan cricket fan, that every time they stepped out of their house, they had to face embarrassment for the match-fixing scandal.
Pakistan as a nation generally would have to step up against corruption irrespective of its level and this is its chance to show the world, and its own countrymen, that it can take tough decisions on principles and stick to them.
For once, let’s not make excuses. Pakistan surely does not need any more reasons to be embarrassed.
(Naveed Alam Siddiqui is a mechanical engineering graduate whose interests include sports and current affairs. He tweets as @Naveed_Sid. The above article is reproduced with permission from http://tribune.com.pk/)