It is clearly of little use to talk about what happened in Lahore on March 3rd, 2009, and its immediate repercussions. International cricket virtually ceased all over Pakistan and it wasn’t until December 2014 that a foreign team took field back in the country, when Kenya played Pakistan A for a string of ODIs. Zimbabwe followed suit in May 2015 and now, we have had a reason to believe that the final of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) which potentially could feature international stars, might be held in Lahore.
One could drone on and on why we need Pakistan hosting international matches again. A cricket-mad country has been deprived of the sport it loves for far too long. If we would have despised Misbah-ul-Haq blocking everything away, would we be able to see it in our own stadiums? Perhaps not, particularly due to the tension we would have felt for the team reeling at a paltry score with too many wickets down. Would we have cursed Shahid Afridi for playing what we call brainless shots? Again, perhaps not, when we would have felt why he needs to play them, to get us across the line. Where would Pakistan be if they played in home conditions in front of their fans? They might arguably have home conditions in the U.A.E, but home fans? The simple answer is no place could hold as a substitute for them.
At this point in time, I could be confident in saying that I am definitely not the only one who has conflicted feelings about the final being held in Lahore, or for that matter, anywhere in Pakistan. Let’s lay out some basic facts. On one hand, successfully hosting the final in Lahore would mean that the door blocking the way for international cricket being held once again in Pakistan, might just creak open a bit more. Not hosting the final in Lahore, and having it hosted in Dubai like last year, would perhaps not mean much.
Foreign players, though hesitant at first, warmed up to the idea of playing on Pakistani soil. Everything looked set and in order up until a few weeks ago. One could not foresee reasons for the final not to happen in Lahore. Terrorism fueled by religious fanaticism had been a recurrent problem, but even they had subdued to quite some an extent. Surely, surely now we would not be targeted!
Alas, we had hoped for far too much. The recent bombing in Lahore was unfortunately one in a string of terrorist attacks that would plague the country. With the state of events where they were, all foreign players said no to being a part of the final in Lahore, if their team qualified. In retrospect, could we even deal with a minor incident taking place around the PSL final in Lahore? How long would international cricket continue to be a sin in Pakistan?
What has perhaps peeved me the most is PCB’s statement; not holding a final in Lahore would rather be an achievement for the terrorists. In my view, Pakistan doing well in any match or tournament abroad is equal to lowering the morale of anyone who wishes harm to Pakistan. Meanwhile, holding the final in Lahore, with an untoward incident happening, would be curtains.
Emotions are clearly running high, and while we want the best for Pakistan and for Pakistan cricket, a rational decision with a coherent line of action must be made and implemented.