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Pakistan Today Editorial – 25th March 2016

Cricket situation

Disgraceful

It has become obvious that neither senior cricket team players nor senior Board management realise that winning and losing is accepted as part of the game only when incompetence and mismanagement have been overcome. The Pakistani cricket machinery – top to bottom – can no longer be forgiven for finally running the sport into the ground. According to news reports, Afridi has finally realised his presence no longer does him, the team, or the fans any good. And others, including some old-timers, as well as the selector and coach, have been informed of their impending unceremonious departure upon arrival back home.

But all this has happened before. So often the national outfit has gone for an important outing – usually the longer format World Cup – and returned, after a drubbing, to a shake-up up-and-down the team order. Waqar knows this better than most people; he was captain in the disastrous ’03 World Cup in South Africa, after all, after which he never played for Pakistan; nor did Wasim Akram or Saeed Anwar for that matter. A similar overhaul took place after the next Cup, after the loss to Ireland forced us out early. And not much has changed since then.

Not much is likely to, either, unless necessary action is taken where the rot is centred – the PCB. Shaharyar Khan and Najam Sethi see it fit to chuck out non-performers but refuse to apply the same logic to themselves. Time and again the improper nature of their appointments has been exposed, to the disadvantage of the team and the country, yet they continue to enjoy their ‘prestigious’ assignments. Since these positions come with more than a fair share of perks, not just the financial kind, they must also be held accountable according to strict standards. Unless the Board is cleansed of this incompetence and disintegration, not much is going to change.

Welcoming President Rouhani

Better relations with Iran is in Pakistan’s interests

It is in Pakistan’s supreme interest to upgrade relations with Iran and go for a more nuanced policy in the Gulf and the Middle East. The visit by Rouhani should mark the beginning of a new era of improved economic, political, and people to people relations. The ties between the two countries which had hitherto been closer and warmer saw a downturn under Ziaul Haq whose shortsighted policies turned Pakistan into a battleground for proxy wars, followed by the efflorescence of deadly terrorist groups which wreaked havoc in the country, killing thousands of civilian and military personnel. The compulsions generated by the military dictator’s policies also led to Pakistan turning into the opposite of what the Founding Father had visualised as a tolerant, liberal, democratic and progressive country.

The CPEC era requires a re-evaluation of Pakistan’s regional policy with emphasis on closer cooperation with neighbours. Unless the country fulfills the requirement, it will fail to benefit from the historic potential offered by the Corridor. Instead of seeking friends who provide aid and loans thus making Pakistan follow policies that serve their interest, Pakistan needs friends who are willing to develop mutually beneficial economic relations. Electricity, gas and petrochemicals from Iran would provide Pakistan the wherewithal needed to realise its economic potential and simultaneously help Pakistan to prioritise its own national interests above those of foreign patrons.

Pakistan and Iran need to facilitate the five-year trade facilitation plan concluded last year but had to wait for the lifting of sanctions on Iran to enhance bilateral trade to $5 billion. The two countries have enough to export to each other with geographical proximity reducing transport expenses.

Pakistan has to continue to persist in its policy towards Yemen and Syria which does not support foreign intervention. It is also in the interest of both Pakistan and Iran to enhance cooperation to eradicate terrorism in the region. For this both countries need to work together with the elected government of Afghanistan.

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