The verdicts are out and the three tainted Pakistani cricketers, Butt, Asif and Aamer have received bans from the ICC. They will also face criminal charges by the Crown Prosecution Service of England and Wales. This is because the criminal offence, bowling no balls and conspiring with Mazhar Majeed, happened in England and Wales.
International cricketers are supposed to set an example for aspiring youngsters who want to devote their lives to sport. Millions of youngsters looked up to Salman Butt, an “educated” young man from a middle class background of Lahore. Salman Butt is no villager like Aamer or Asif, he hails from an upper middle class background, has benefited from good schooling and that is why he was a role model not just for his fellow cricketers, but for millions in
Pakistan. Batting wise Salman Butt was highly inconsistent, but would sporadically produce class and leave even his critics stupefied. However he had an immense fan following, and he should have thought twice before indulging in these shameful acts which have disgraced his fellow countrymen, particularly those who live outside Pakistan.
However, when those who are meant to set examples, commit corrupt and greedy acts, authorities strive to make an example of them. It is a common perception that those in power or those with fame need to be more humane, moral and responsible than ordinary public. This is why I do not blame the ICC for imposing what may seem like harsh sanctions particularly on Butt and Aamer.
Mohammad Aamer is considered to be an innocent 18 year old boy who has just been “trapped” by his corrupt seniors. If Aamer was so young and so innocent, a spot fixing ring leader like Salman Butt would not recruit him in this nefarious enterprise. I have serious doubts whether Aamer is really 18 and whether he is really so naive as Pakistanis claim he is. Nothing about Aamer’s bowling made it seem like he was 18 and naive. He was shrewd, mature, tactical and understood the batsman’s approach very well. It is common for Pakistani cricketers to register their ages as 2 years less than actual age which is a means to prolong their careers. I have no doubt Aamer has done the same.
Across Pakistan the reaction of the public is mixed. Some people are still living in the delusions of conspiracy, blaming the West and India
for trapping the innocent Pakistan players (one of whom has twice failed dope tests). Some claim the bans were too harsh and Aamer should have been let off 2 or 3 years. Others feel the punishment was appropriate. The reaction from the West is mixed as well. Some feel justice has been done whether others like Michael Vaughan and Andrew Flintoff feel that the trio should have been banned for life.
It is pathetic the way some Pakistanis are either defending the shamed trio, or claiming that the bans are a conspiracy against Pakistan. It is remarkable that people who believe that in theory a thief’s hands should be chopped off so that he may never steal again, are now claiming that the spot fixing trio were treated with injustice. I am not advocating that all Pakistanis believe that a thief’s hands should be chopped off, but it is surprising to think that people who claim they follow Sharia, where the intention is to prohibit evil absolutely by taking absolute measures, can now say that the punishment for Aamer & Co is too harsh. Are these not double standards? And Pakistanis who often criticise the West for its double standards- why can’t they see their own misgivings?
Perhaps this is what is wrong with Pakistani society that corrupt and greedy people like politicians and some businessmen can be acceptable to the general population, but when people
start pointing out double standards in society and preach enlightenment and moderation, they are seen to be evil stooges of the West who have an agenda against Pakistan. This is the reason why, Asif Zardari and Nawaz Sharif are more acceptable to the population than Pervez Musharraf.
Not so long ago a Pakistani, Justice Qayyum, conducted an inquiry into corruption within the Pakistan cricket team and found that most of the cricketers were involved in corruption in some form or other. However, Pakistanis have forgotten that. There is no point in living in denial. A country that lives and breathes in denial is only destined to fail and self destruct. This sad tale of spot fixing is not limited to cricket only. It is also indicative of the mindset of Pakistanis generally and their views about politics, economics and society. These are people who allow crooks to run elections and then rule and exploit them.
The ICC has done the right thing by making an example out of the trio. This is a message to all the cricketers of the world to behave themselves. Pakistan needs to wiggle out of the “victim mentality” and address the problems that lead to such disgraceful incidents occurring. I do not want to see Aamer playing for Pakistan again, simply because he chose to sell the country’s pride for the sake of money. That kind of individual does not deserve to represent a country in any field at any level.