This and That

So we got clobbered by New Zealand in the first Test, after doing so well against the West Indies in UAE in all 3 formats – Test. ODI, T20. One more Test to go in New Zealand and then the team travels to Australia, who incidentally are not doing so well at all against other teams generally.

But will we beat them or will they clobber us as well? Sadly and I dearly hope not, chances are that Australia will beat us also. Everyone and his uncle, except PCB and our national team knows why Zealand and Australia are likely to win their respective series – UAE pitches are dead pitches, whereas the pitches Down Under are just the opposite. They are green and they are fast. And our batsmen have not the foggiest notion how to play on fast pitches, how to play the sharply rising short pitched delivery, how to play the swinging fast bowling. Add to this our usual confusion about strategy, aversion to being aggressive when needed and our batsmen’s inherent impatience, and you are facing a batting collapse every time we play on fast pitches.

My simple question is why the PCB with all its resources cannot build a permanent fast pitch, replicating exactly the pitches in Zealand and in Australia (and England for that matter), where our team can intensively practice before a tour to these countries? Especially considering no international cricket is being played at home and an idyllic venue like the National Stadium in Karachi is there for the taking to replicate the pitch at Gabba or SCG for instance.

Rio Olympics this summer. Did you know that Pakistan sent only 7 competitors (of whom 3 are only Pakistani in name as they are foreign based) and accompanying them, 11 officials! Now that’s freeloading in style! None of the 7 competitors made it beyond the qualifying rounds; forget about winning medals. A country of 200 million people and the 6th most populous country in the world, and we could produce only 7 competitors.

Also at the Olympics was young Baloch girl, Madiea Ghafoor, running in the 4×400 meters. Except that Madiea is a citizen of Holland and was representing that country, even though some officials and some media in Pakistan were bragging about how a Pakistani Baloch girl has made it to the Olympics, till it transpired that Madiea was born in Holland and grew up there, and while she is proud to be a Baloch whose family originates from Lyari, she is not Pakistani but Dutch!

On the other hand, Pakistan’s Huzaifa Ibrahim recently won the Japan Junior Squash Open (under 13 category), but did anyone hear about it back home? Did anyone in officialdom or the private sector sing his praises or reward him?

Then there is Mohammad Waseem, who is World Boxing Council (WBC) Flyweight Champion, and he too remains an unsung hero.

Our great biannual defence exhibition with the oxymoronic tagline of arms for peace! It’s like saying acid for the thirsty. IDEAS grows with every new edition and is good for the country in terms of the foreign orders it brings for our arms industry, earning us foreign exchange. But we are not talking billions of dollars here. Not sure what the figure is of our share of annual global arms sales, but a wild guess says it is probably a low single digit percentage figure, even if that.

Even though I am dead against wars and arms and armaments, I am not against IDEAS in principle. We didn’t invent war and if the world must buy arms, which it will continue to do so forever, than sure, we should get a piece of the pie. My gripe is that IDEAS causes immense inconvenience and stress to millions of Karachi citizens. And we all know that massive traffic jams and gridlocks, whether caused by IDEAS every 2 years, or much more regularly by the enigma labeled euphemistically as ‘VIP Movement’ (don’t know why but this term always reminds me of bowel movement), can and does result in human tragedies as well, with critically ill patients not being able to make it to a hospital in time and so on. Not to forget people not being able to reach their place of work, children missing school, massive quantities of fuel being wasted stuck in traffic jams, et cetera et cetera.

But of course no one cares about the people, do they? This is the sad reality of our life in Pakistan. People in power who can make a difference are firm in their belief that the ‘sacrifice’ the people are making is in the National Interest, without for a minute considering whether there is an alternative and whether this sacrifice is really necessary.

My alternate solution: The CAA has hundreds of acres of land in the airport area. Why not build a state of the art exhibition centre there, including a decent sized 4-5 star hotel? Considering IDEAS attracts a large number of foreign visitors, it will be ideal for them, while freeing the citizens of Karachi from the biannual stress of IDEAS at Expo Center, Hasan Square. And once you do have an Exhibition Center in the environs of your international airport, the huge opportunity is there to do some smart international marketing and hold many other international exhibitions there. It’s a real possibility and by no means an impossibility.


Read in the papers that CM KPK has ordered that the setting up of a zoo in Peshawar is expedited for public ‘entertainment.’ This is a bad, bad, terrible idea. All existing zoos in Pakistan and especially the Karachi zoo, are deplorable, virtual torture centers for the animals kept in them, and by any international standard, should be closed down immediately. All existing zoos suffer from extremely poor housing for the animals, very high mortality rates, pathetic veterinary care, rampant corruption of officials in connivance with animal dealers and suppliers of everything from feed to construction materials. There is no reason to believe that Peshawar zoo will be any different.

The master planning and resulting design of a new zoo is not the task of your urban construction architects. It is the job of a team of committed experts and subject specialists, including ethologists (animal behavior experts), biologists, qualified wildlife veterinarians (wildlife veterinary care, diseases and medication is vastly different from veterinary care of domesticated species like dogs, cats and livestock), horticulturists, landscape architects, engineers (civil, mechanical, electrical), educationists and still others.

Similarly, wildlife species to be kept in a zoo is not to be determined on personal whims and likes of officials with no knowledge of wildlife. A modern zoo today does not, and cannot, have public entertainment as its principal objective. It has to be first a center for research and captive breeding of endangered species and especially native species, second a facility for public education in nature and biodiversity and third, a facility for healthy public recreation. In this order.

I have been a wildlife enthusiast for over 30 years. In the mid 1990s I had set up from scratch Pakistan’s first open-plan public zoo, called the Jungle Kingdom, inside Ayub Park Rawalpindi. I operated this for about 9 years until it was taken over by the AHF. I regard myself as a high level expert in captive wildlife management and am up at any time being challenged on my in-depth knowledge of this subject by anyone in the country. I can and very much want to contribute to Peshawar zoo being established on the right lines. Anyone having access to the CM KPK is seriously requested to please set up an introduction / meeting for me, for the long-term benefit of the wild animals that the Peshawar zoo will ultimately become a permanent home to.

Going back to June, the Supreme Court accepted for hearing a lawsuit holding the federal and provincial governments responsible for failing to respect the right to life and challenging the use of fossil fuels. So what’s unusual about this case, you might ask? The petitioner, Rabab Ali, who filed the lawsuit through her father, is all of 7 years old!

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