Keep nationalism above sport
They say it is impossible to lick your elbow. I know you will try it now; I have, and they were right. That could precisely be the reason why some people like licking the arm joint of others; for one thing there is assured success, unless of course you do not have the consent of the elbow-owner. In that case you could be elbowed out. Or, whacked!
That and more is precisely what should have been done to the shameless bunch of Bangladeshis shouting 'Pakistan Zindabad' on 23 March at Mirpur Stadium during their quarter-final match against the West Indies; this when our own national team is a proud participant of the 14-nations tournament. Alas! It is on Bangladesh soil and those mouths dare to speak in Bangla. They should have been gagged with toilet paper. The very face of a Bangladeshi that had the Pakistan flag smeared on the face should have been slapped in public. The ugly belly that had been similarly daubed should have been more private.
For those adults disgracefully not aware, on that very date 23 March 1971 just forty years ago the Bangla Desh flag was hoisted by Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman for the first time on this land sanctified by the blood, sweat and tears of martyrs and gazis, purified by the sacrifice of our mothers and sisters. It was the Bangla Desh flag that was displayed on Mujib's car as it wound its way through the streets and into the President's House for a fresh round of negotiations with Pakistan President Yahya Khan. (www.genocidebangladesh.org)
23 March or any other date, the behaviour of those so-called lovers of the game is not to be allowed, for this was once Pakistan, and we wrested independent Bangladesh after a struggle for over two decades, the sacrifice of millions, the most gruesome genocide in history, the untold sufferings, and a bloody nine-month war.
Let me reiterate what has been said in this column on several earlier episodes. The love for sports or sport personalities can cross national boundaries, but it cannot and must not undermine national values.
Let me globalise the point. Cheering a good performance is done at the Lord's too. But you do not hear any British cricket fan shouting Jai Hind when Sachin completes a century, or see the Aussie flag painted on their face because Ponting is blasting the New Zealanders, or any of them wearing the Sri Lankan jersey just because Murali is the world's highest wicket taker. They clap in appreciation.
Last month Italian fashion designer Francesco Barbaro was castigated for highlighting the swastika. And for heaven's sake, that was the offensive Nazi symbol sixty-five years ago.
History is what makes a nation, a country, and very few countries in the world have paid more in life and property, in torture and humiliation, than ours. It is called Bangladesh; that is just to remind the zindabad group at Mirpur lest they have forgotten the mutilated bodies of our men, women and children, the decomposed bodies of our intellectuals, the brutality of the Pakistani soldiers, the guile of the razakars, the deception of the Pakistanis then at the helm of affairs, and the valour of our freedom fighters. You pitiful lot should have shown more dignity, even if you did not have any. The spirit of the 2011 Cricket World Cup or of those cups that do not count cannot be more than that of the War of Liberation. You cease to exist as a nation if you do not uphold national ideals, and identity. The question is do you have it?
The Bangladesh Cricket Board which did such a magnificent job as hosts failed in their undertaking in that they could not forecast such a grievous security breach. Proficient BCB ground stewards (with the commendable cooperation of the public) stopped among other items plastic water bottles, cigarettes, matchboxes, face lotion, and toiletry from entering the stadium, but they could not stop Pakistan flags being carried by Bangladeshis? Ironically, at the Inaugural Ceremony at the Bangabandhu Stadium 17 February, spectators were asked to throw away little Bangladesh repeat Bangladesh flags stuck on plastic masts. They were that much dangerous for security, the Bangladesh flags, that is.
The Bangalees at Mirpur on March 23, those who went to see a good game of cricket should have stopped this debauchery, protested, or in the least reported their discomfort to BCB. I am sure they were more in numbers.
Such brazen display of infidelity for any foreign team must be stopped. Future matches should be preceded by a motivational media campaign (posters, sms, TV, radio) explaining the background, the facts, and the doable. Parents must do this at home, too; teachers at schools. In future, fans wishing to enter a match venue with a foreign flag or banner must show a passport at every gate, and during a match on being challenged.
Edesh-ke razakar-mukto korey chaarbo InshaAllah!