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  • Writer's pictureSaleem Qamar Butt

Mitigating Pakistan’s Challenges through Sports

Since inception, Pakistan has been facing numerous challenges on multiple fronts, which are too well known and expressed in a sequence and priorities depending on who is expressing those. Commencing with almost zero economic survivability and minimal security viability; though Pakistan has made significant progress in all the fields that define a nation state, yet a lot of people prefer to see the half glass empty and express more disappointment than thankfulness. It is mainly due to odd comparison with China, Japan, India and some other countries while ignoring complete elements of national power as well as enormity and miscellany of the challenges that have consistently confronted Pakistan. It is unfortunate that most Pakistanis today tend to compare oranges with apples with total disregard to the most important and honest question i.e. what is my role in the good and bad that confronts my motherland.

It is a well established fact that those people who formed the ruling elite after passing away of founding father and his close associates, were opposed to the very idea of Pakistan and had more loyalties with the colonial masters and Indian National congress party, which most tragically has not changed much while in a different hue. As of now, Pakistan is a poor country of rich people and filthy rich powerful ruling elite whether in civvies or in Khaki. The sham democratic political system of Pakistan thrives on hereditary, landlordism, casts & creed, larger families, politico-religious, sectarian and ethnic factors with ill gotten money playing the dominant role in buying rather than winning the genuine votes. As a well crafted political scheme, the ruling mafia has consistently kept the masses deprived of basic amenities of life in a civic society; poverty, lack of good education facilities including missing sports opportunities is a constant shame in our society. To add insult to the wounds of starving masses, ruling mafia gets served well by self serving colonial bureaucratic system, including police, patwari, jirga, courts and kachehry sub-systems. This messy and exploitative ruling strategy has made honest living impossible in the land of pure where corruption has become an accepted shameless norm at all levels and in every walk of life. Thus the uncontrolled inflation, poorest education, missing health facilities, dysfunctional and counter-productive national institutions/ industries, and abysmal performance in the field of sports; all stem from this corruption ridden arrangements of governance in Pakistan. It is an irony that none of the leading political or politico-religious party is democratic in nature and almost all are surviving on transfer of power among the family members who remain loath to any democratic values and old party stalwarts acting as families’ slaves. As a matter of fact, word democracy remains the most misused word in Pakistani politics.

On the external front, Pakistan has remained subjected to subversion and sabotage and bigger regional and extra regional conspiracies that resulted in loss of Former East Pakistan. Kashmir remains a nuclear flash point being an unresolved humanitarian and political issue as per UN agenda with India unilaterally declaring IIOJK as its integral part. The global geo-political contest has further enabled India to feel eight feet tall being declared as new USA Strategic partner in the region to contain China. As a result, India is flexing muscles against Pakistan more freely with a little snub from China. However, Pakistan has been subjected to 5th generation warfare by India by investing heavily on the sub-nationalists, sectarian and terrorist elements and by taking on Pakistan from East, West and South-West. On the economic front, FATF has been misused effectively by India and its new partners for common strategic goals. Besides, India continues her nefarious attempts to subvert Pakistan on the internal front by exploiting Pakistan’s political, economic, sectarian and ethnic fault-lines. India in collusion with other hostile forces is making extensive use of disinformation warfare by putting to use unbridled social, electronic and print media both at national and international levels.

Nevertheless, despite the general malaise that afflicted out beloved motherland, till corruption seeped into the sports arena in Pakistan, performance of our sportsmen mostly on self help or limited departmental support remained pretty good especially in the field of Hockey, Cricket, Squash, Snooker, Tennis, Boxing, Yachting, Wrestling, Kabaddi, Weight lifting and in some Athletics’ events. However, as the basic nurseries of school, colleges and universities along with sports arena diminished and political vultures filled lucrative and self serving top heavy sports committees and boards, the emphasis shifted from sports and sportsmen to cosmetic organizations. The consequent disregard to modern developments in the spots fields including techniques, sports gears, technologies, coaching, training, diet and psychological preparation resulted in total decay in the standard of sports in Pakistan. In nutshell, the missing vision and strategy for improvement of sports in the country erroneously attributed to lack of funds is a tragedy that needs to be addressed sooner than later. The involvement of government and non-government corporate sector in owning, funding and promoting the dedicated sports teams and events under national and international experts is likely to take care of the missing links and the indicated shortcomings.

There is no second opinion that Sport has a huge role to play when it comes to nation-building as It helps in elevating qualities like discipline, determination, teamwork and a passion for fitness in the psyche of a nation. Sports can support nation-building by creating a sense of national pride and unity. They can also bring positive attention to a nation through its participation in or hosting of an international sporting event. The youth plays a great role in nation-building and determines the future of a nation. It has the power to help a country develop and move towards progress. It also is responsible for bringing social reform within a country. The role of sport in improving the national health index, promotion of unity and national pride, economic dividends by using it as industry, for human development, and for fighting many social problems ought to be realised for its potential.

The government of Pakistan currently led by Prime Minister Imran Khan who is a world recognized sportsman should make sport development as an integral part of national economic strategic planning. There is need to define and articulate sports policies in order to incorporate sport in the national development strategies. The benefits of sport in terms of human and economic development may not be left solely in the hands of the non-governmental organizations and volunteers but Government should ensure the provision and equity of the distribution of resources especially among the poor communities by domestic arrangements at primary school level. Football, volley ball and other cheap sports can be used in the slums and poor communities to combat social problems and to offer a sporting chance to the kids in the slums. There is an urgent need for the schools, colleges, Universities and Institutions of higher learning to reevaluate their curriculum in order to put more emphasis on human resource and development in sport science. There is need for the International Olympic Committee to invest in sport development including research in sport science in Pakistan for better participation and performance in Olympic completions. Government of Pakistan will do well to accord an immediate attention to long neglected and mismanaged sports with great potential to contribute in bringing normalcy, upbeat national morale and self pride in the national mosaic.

14 October 2020

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