Hats off to Green Shirts

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The entire nation is on cloud nine with the historic Pakistan Test cricket win in the Caribbean’s. Yes, Pakistan beat West Indies for the first time on their home soil in a dramatic conclusion of the third and final Test on Sunday. Pakistan won the match by 101 runs to seal the series 2-1. With this win Pakistan gave two of their retiring legends Misbahul Haq and Younus Khan a fitting farewell. As far Misbah is concerned, he became the first ever Pakistani captain to win a Test series in the Caribbean, with no other captain from Pakistan having done so in the last seven tours to the West Indies. Misbah is also the first, and only, Asian captain to win three Test matches in West Indies. He won one Test in 2011 series and two Tests in 2017 series. Virat Kohli won two Tests when India toured West Indies last year. No other Asian captain could win more than one Test on West Indian soil. This was also Misbah’s 11th series win, the most by an Asian captain, Indian duo of Saurav Ganguly and MS Dhoni has won 9 series each. The win in Dominica Test was Misbah’s 26th win as captain, already the most by any Pakistani captain in history, over a dozen more than Imran and Miandad. He is only the fourth Pakistani captain to win his last Test, other three were AH Kardar, Imran Khan and Rashid Latif. Both Misbah and Younis could not have asked for a better finish to his career. The bowlers bowled their heart out on a slow track. Everyone was so motivated. There were frustrations. No-balls, wickets, couple of chances here and there, but you enjoy wins like this much more than straightforward wins. Misbah retires with a batting average of more than 46 and sadly without having captained his team in his own country. Younus on the other hand leaves as Pakistan’s most prolific batsman, with 10,099 Test runs at an average of more than 52. One wishes both Misbah and Younus all the best. It was a fine journey for both in the middle, sharing a lot of partnerships. In the history books, both the names will be there.

Sordid state of human rights

Once again, the country’s main human rights watchdog has confirmed that our country continues to have a dismal track record in terms of rights violations in 2016. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan’s latest annual report paints a bleak picture. It does point to some positive developments last year, such as the passage of some laws. But among its detailed reporting on rights violations that Pakistanis have lived with for many years, two particularly disturbing conclusions could be drawn: first, that mob violence increased alarmingly. And second, that last year was an especially dangerous one for religious minorities. The report noted with concern, for example, that there had been a rise in incidents of sexual harassment, disappearances and targeted attacks against Ahmadis in the last year, to name just a few of its findings. Similarly, there have been worrying increases in cases of honour killings, rapes, abductions, etc. As a matter of fact, much of the blame for the present situation must be placed on the government. Some of the report’s other findings, like 44pc children suffering from stunted growth, expose the government’s ‘priority deficit’. While it boasts building highways and power plants – while neglecting schools and hospitals – it cannot really boast optimal employment of available resources. Then there is the little regard it gives to institutions like parliament, where issues of governance and problems of the people must be debated. Unfortunately, the ruling party betrays little realisation of the deteriorating human rights situation. The report notes a long list of State failures to protect the lives and rights of its people. As many as 728 people went ‘missing’ – the highest number in six years. And 15 persons, 10 of them Muslims and five non-Muslims, were booked on blasphemy charges, and two each sentenced to death while three human rights activists were killed. Furthermore, it notes that since Pakistan lifted the moratorium on executions in the wake of the terrorist attack on the Peshawar Army Public School, 432 convicts have been executed, 87 of them last year. A vast majority of them were common criminals rather than terrorists. This has gone on whilst most other countries have done away with death penalty. It is sad, indeed, that this should be going on in a country like Pakistan where the prosecution system frequently works against the weak and the wheels of justice move too slowly, resulting often times in miscarriage of justice, like in the case of two brothers whom the apex court exonerated last year in a murder case only to discover they had already been hanged. No less worrisome are the attacks on the media. Six journalists and a blogger lost their lives last year.

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