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Daily Times Editorials – 12th May 2016

Travesty of justice in Bangladesh

In what has been condemned globally as a mockery of justice, the Bangladesh government hanged the leader of Jamaat-e-Islami, Motiur Rahman Nizami, over charges of war crimes committed in the 1971 war of secession. The inadequate and hasty proceedings of the International Crimes Tribunal set up by the Bangladesh government in 2009 have been criticised world over. According to The New York Times, this tribunal has “become a political tool of the government, targeting leaders of Jamaat-e-Islami.” Jamaat-e-Islami is one of the major opposition parties in Bangladesh, and it seems that the government of Awami League Party led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is using the complicated past of the country to stifle opposition. Such abuse of power involving mock trials to hang political opponents is not only morally abhorrent, but also it erases any veneer of legitimacy that the government has with relation to its citizens. If the government itself engages in politics of revenge, and uses state machinery to kill political opponents then it loses the moral standing to rule over the country.

It is true that the events that took place in 1971 traumatised both the population of Pakistan and Bangladesh. Wars are always violent and complicated, and civil wars that result in secession are even more problematic. Hasty decisions based on immediate imperatives and incomplete information are often taken, as war brings out the basal human instinct of survival in every individual. It is indeed absurd that the Bangladesh government can use such a complicated issue, turn it into clear case of black and white, and not only prosecute but also award death sentences to individuals through an inadequately conducted trial.

These trials that the Bangladesh government is conducting are being condemned world over, and by international human rights groups. The Amnesty International called for the immediate halting of Nizami’s execution because it had concerns over the fairness of the trials. Even international newspapers have expressed their reservations for these trials. For example, The Guardian has cited concerns of rights groups, which according to the newspaper “say the trials fall short of global standards and lack international oversight.” The Pakistan government has rightly condemned these trials, and the National Assembly’s offering of fateha for the deceased Jamaat-e-Islami leader is a message to the Bangladesh government that Pakistan has expressed sorrow over this killing. Pakistani government’s anger over the issue is understandable since the Bangladeshi government is reneging on the tripartite agreement signed between Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh in 1974 according to which the founding father of Bangladesh had agreed to end the prosecution of the persons who had been accused by his government of war crimes. The Bangladesh government is showing a reckless disregard for international conventions, and these trials would only serve to ruin Bangladesh’s image in the international community. Moreover, Bangladesh is harming its relationship with Pakistan, which will have negative consequences for both the countries. It goes without saying that the use of the 1971 war as pretence by the Bangladesh government to hang political leaders reflects badly on Pakistan since it conveys the message that Bangladesh is opening the Pandora’s box of the secession of 1971, and it holds all the abetters of Pakistan during that time as worthy of death. It is high time that the Bangladesh government realised that moving ahead is the only wise course of action, as past tragedies would only serve to heighten animosity between Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Welcome aboard, Mickey Arthur

Mickey Arthur of South Africa has become the new head coach of the Pakistan cricket team. The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has finally, after much deliberation and amidst speculations, found a foreigner who is willing to take on the toughest challenge in international cricket: imparting traditional coaching to a fractious bunch of talented individuals. Arthur has succeeded former Test captain Waqar Younis, who resigned from the post last month after Pakistan’s disastrous Asia Cup and ICC World Twenty20 campaigns in Bangladesh and India. Arthur was appointed head coach only after former England coach Peter Moores and Australian Stuart Law declined the PCB offer. Perhaps the duo knew that building relationships with volatile Pakistan players and surviving in petty Pakistan cricket politics was like treading on thin ice. At the same time, we should thank former captains Wasim Akram and Ramiz Raja for their remarkable output in finding the right coach.

To be a coach of the Pakistan cricket team is not a bed of roses. Pakistan has had four foreign coaches in the past — Richard Pybus (two tenures in 1999 and 2002-03), Bob Woolmer (2004-07), Geoff Lawson (2007-2008) and Dav Whatmore (2012-14) – all of whom, except Woolmer who died in the West Indies, were shown the door unceremoniously. The biggest reason: Pakistani society lacks patience, and mmediate results are demanded. It is interesting that many former Pakistan cricketers and even selected media personnel have started to criticise the PCB for bringing in a foreign coach. This ‘harsh criticism’ shows the typical mentality: people have their own axe to grind and they follow their own petty agendas.

Trashing the PCB, without giving solutions, is a national pastime at the moment. The statements given by Pakistan’s former players in national media are aimed to make people believe that Pakistan cricket has gone to the dogs, and that there is no light at the end of the tunnel. It is ironic these very former players, who once did the country proud by excelling on the field, have been instrumental in blotting the game by either indulging in needless ego tussles or resorting to selfish gains at the game’s expense. It is imperative to understand that a foreign coach is not the problem. The problems in Pakistan cricket are its eccentric, egoistic, self-centered, indisciplined and unprofessional players and the very weak PCB, which is too scared to take strong steps.

Cricket coaching in the world has changed tremendously over the years. But in Pakistan we love to live in the past. Building a strong team is not an overnight process and it takes years to put together a balanced side keeping in view the modern approach to competitive international cricket, and the exacting scientific preparations that the international teams now favour. It must be understood that Pakistani coaches do not have the required knowledge of the modern game. They fail to inculcate spirit among players and enable them to discover and enhance their strong areas. Outdated and dictatorial coaching methods can not take Pakistan forward.

Arthur will take charge ahead of the England tour, where Pakistan plays four Tests, five one-day and a Twenty20 international matches between July 14-September 7. They also play three Tests and six one-day in Australia starting in December. In between they will face New Zealand and world T20 champions, the West Indies. The two series against top tier teams, England and Australia, on their home turf will be ‘the real test’ for the South African coach.

The team needs rationally thinking, smart, head coach with modern tactics to turn things around in Pakistan cricket. And Arthur is the right choice under the present circumstances. He has an outstanding coaching record and led South Africa to world number one rankings across all formats. It is hoped that Arthur would be able to transform Pakistani players into thinking and text-book cricketers. For Arthur to succeed, Pakistan must support the new coach. Welcome aboard, Arthur.

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