Imran Khan’s days as a sports hero are long gone. A cricketer who put Pakistan on the map with his all-round skills and sublime leadership has come a long way in terms of tactics and strategies or the lack of it. Today the former captain is leading his country out of a phase that will perhaps not be as easy as it was in 1992 for the Pakistani cricket team.
When Imran came to power in 2018 it was expected that he would effect some dialogue and change between the two countries that had been not on talking terms for a long time. It took Imran Khan almost 20 years to come to power as the Prime Minister of Pakistan. Imran came from an affluent background and it was expected that he would not have the pre-set agenda against India as most Prime Ministers did before him. How wrong he proved everyone once again!
Imran has a tough task at hand. To be the Prime Minister of Pakistan is not an easy job as one has to contend with the ISI, the army and the terrorist organisations in that country as well. But one would assume that a former captain or Kaptaan, as he is popularly known, would have a better sense of using his acumen when it comes to dealing with India. His recent rant at the United Nations and his rhetoric against the abrogation of Article 370 have been a dampener for India as a whole but the sports community more specifically.
There was a time that Imran Khan was a prime precedent of the sportsman spirit. In a match between India and Pakistan, K. Srikanth was adjudged LBW by the umpire off a Waqar Younis delivery, but Srikanth insisted he had edged the ball. Imran Khan showed immense maturity and composure and most of all decency and called Srikanth back. Where has that spirit disappeared? One tends to wonder and shudder at this situation.
Today players like Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag, Mohd. Shami, Harbhajan Singh have all criticised Imran Khan and used the choicest of language to remind the Pakistani Prime Minister of the legacy he has forgotten. Once a respected cricketer, Imran has failed to extract the best out of the sport that made him what he is today. The Indian cricketing fraternity is furious at the way Imran has been instigating India to consider a possible conventional war between the two nations. A reminder of how feeble Imran’s spirit has become since coming to power!
Slowly and insidiously, Imran’s image as a world class player and role model for young cricketers is withering away. The decadence of Pakistan has caught up with the once lone light in this squalor of a space we call Pakistan. But the biggest tragedy of this has been the death of a world class sportsman at the hands of a degenerate group of theocrats who peddle agendas to keep their coffers full. Imran has strayed in the crowd and no amount of cricket can give him what he has lost.
Vineet Malhotra is Consulting Editor and Primetime Anchor with NewsX.