Twenty20 win gives terror-hit Pakistan reason to rejoice

June 22nd, 2009 - 2:08 pm ICT by IANS  

Taliban By Nadeem Sarwar
Islamabad, June 22 (DPA) Jubilations are rare these days in Pakistan as suicide bombers roam around looking for targets, but the nation’s victory in the Twenty20 World Cup provided the sad nation with an opportunity to celebrate.

Thousands swarmed the streets and danced to frenzied drum beats when skipper Younis Khan lifted the trophy in Britain’s Lords cricket ground Sunday after defeating Sri Lankan by eight wickets with eight balls to spare.

Waving national flag and chanting slogans “Long Live Pakistan”, they took to the streets in almost every town and village, in sheer joy and comfort.

“Every single day we see blood and dead bodies on television screens, mosques being blown up, women and children slaughtered by those beasts (Taliban) in this great country and it has made me very sad,” said Javed Ahmad, standing among a crowd of hundreds of noisy celebrants in the garrison city of Rawalpindi.

“But today is a different day, here we have eventually something to celebrate as a nation. Here we have something to be really proud of,” he added.

Taliban and Al Qaeda have unleashed terror in Pakistan for the last three years, killing thousands of people, creating an atmosphere of fear in the country where the economy slowed down to the record low this year. Many analysts fear the nuclear-armed Islamic country was inching towards becoming a failed state.

The deteriorating security situation even raised questions about the future of cricket in Pakistan. The Sri Lankan cricket team survived an attack when it was being escorted to Qaddafi stadium for a test match in eastern city of Lahore March 3.

Seven Sri Lankan players were injured while six policemen and two civilians died in the attack, which resulted in the cancellation of international cricket, at least for now, and putting Pakistan’s hosting of 2011 World Cup at stake.

But the terrorists failed to defeat the spirit of cricket in Pakistan, which is so crazy about the sports. With little practice over the last one and half years and forced to travel the world finding opportunity to play cricket on foreign soil, Pakistan was an underdog since the start of the Twenty20 championship.

Pakistan started slowly and teetered towards the semi-final but finally found discipline and fire to beat the top favourite South Africa, a vibrant side throughout.

In the final, the green shirts were overwhelming. They gave Sri Lankans little chance to recover from early setbacks when slow-medium Abdul Razzaq and 17-year-old pacer Mohammad Aamir got rid of top four batsmen just for 32 runs.

With a target of 139 to win, Pakistan never looked back. An unbroken third-wicket stand of 76 in 59 balls between unpredictable Shahid Afridi and talented Shoaib Malik led the team to empathic victory, cheering people up back at home.

“This is a great victory because it’s going to improve our image in the entire world,” said Ali Raza, a university student who had come to enjoy the match being shown live on a big screen in a cinema hall in Rawalpindi.

“Terrorists are few and still the entire world labels this whole nation as terrorist. This demoralises everyone in the country. But now we have shown the world by winning the Twenty20 World Cup how talented Pakistanis are,” added Raza.

Following the spectacular win, the Pakistani captain called upon the world for the resumption of international cricket in Pakistan, an appeal which is going to remain unheard, at least for now when the country is struggling against Taliban in the north-western region.

“I know the situation has been bad but it is not our fault. I am a proud man and this win is a gift for the whole nation,” Younis told reporters at Lords. “My message to the world is, please come to Pakistan.”

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