Pakistan is that unfortunate country that has dealt with international boycott and isolation on multiple platforms worldwide due to other nations’ conspiracies. The reason why we term this unfortunate because Pakistan has lost its recognition, innocent lives, security and ties with other countries at the hands of War on Terror as a result of both internal and external factors.
Being labeled as the “Most Dangerous Country in the World” by multiple Magazines worldwide, led to multiple sanctions including visa restrictions, trade lockdown resulting towards economical downfall, humility in global forums, to the discouragement of international media towards uprooting for Pakistan.
As the image of Pakistan was descending with each passing day, reciprocatively the rise of bombings, terrorist attacks, and the bloodshed of countless innocent lives and insecurity of people was at a rise. Where the only news which made headlines in international media was that of suicide bombing or shelling by the hands of extremists, the hope for a positive Pakistan was diminishing.
Due to the rise of extremism and terrorism in certain regions of Pakistan backed by different terrorist groups belonging to its neighboring countries, all the events involving international cricket council, teams, franchises were suspended. For almost half a decade, Pakistan suffered badly as foreign tourists were rarely spotted, the media never pounded upon the positive actions taken by our Government and the atrocities people of Pakistan were facing daily. With at least 60,000 innocent lives lost due to War on Terror and whopping economic losses adding up to $120 billion, Pakistan made every move to counter extremism by terrorist groups and has been successful so far to reach their endeavors.
As all the major platforms untied their roots with Pakistan, International Sports was one of the key elements which were discontinued from Pakistan. Opportunities from holding big events to hosting individual teams, one after another, were carried away from Pakistan. Media played a vital role in diminishing the light from Pakistan but the involvement of politics in the sporting agency was indeed important.
Despite Hockey being the National game of Pakistan, Cricket is beloved to every individual living in this country. The love for Cricket is in the blood of every Pakistani and it is the sport that unites the entire Nation despite differences of culture, race, ethnicity or religion.
As we are aware of the perpetual conspiracies by India against Pakistan; even International Cricket Council (ICC) has been influenced by BCCI’s dominance which not only overshadowed Pakistan from the limelight but also, led to restriction of ties with other countries’ cricket boards. The void created by the instability and incompetence of those running this game’s organization has created unprecedented space for Pakistani fans.
But being the most resilient nation in the world went on to win titles, one after another, becoming the best in all three formats of cricket including Test, ODI, and T20. It showed the world true potential of Pakistan which was under-cover and long forgotten by the world. From the arrival of the Zimbabwe Team in 2015 with limited areas targeted for the tour, the idea for the launch of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) was formed. Since the initiation of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) in 2016, the fans had become fanatical because their favorite players were on the field, unfortunately, not on the soil of Pakistan but Dubai.
Struggling through the political engagement and pressure created by India on International Players due to its biggest market, Indian Premium League (IPL); Pakistan was successful enough to host the PSL Final in 2017 in Lahore, Pakistan. The match went fully packed with people enthusiastically dressed in the color of their favorite teams, holding banners of “Bring Back International Cricket to Pakistan” and “Pakistan is Safe Country, Let the World See-through Our Eyes”.
Upon the arrival of the World’s Group of XI, the security provided was very strict and scrutinized, with not a single measure of peril, leaving all the players with fond memories to cherish and holding the peaceful message of Pakistan. One after another, some more matches of PSL 2018 being played in Pakistan (transcending to another big city, Karachi), playing series against West Indies, PSL 2019 being played entirely in Pakistan, the arrival of Sri Lankan team.
Upon being inquired by Bangladeshi Reporter, Chris Gayle replied “Pakistan is one of the safest places right now in the world. They say you will get presidential security so you are in good hands. I mean we are in good hands too in Bangladesh, right?” following his statement, the arrival of Bangladesh Cricket Team was cherished by the fans in early 2020.
In the words of Suhayb Alvi, a cult figure of Pakistani News Agency, “Everywhere you look, you’ll find cricket, every facet of society seems to bear this game’s reflection, whether it’s religion, politics, music, gender, advertisements, films, memes, or even symbols of national identity”.
We can see how Cricket has served as an exceptional tool in bringing back the International Spotlight to Pakistan with tourism booming and this beautiful country climbing up the ladder of becoming one of the friendliest nations worldwide.
The arrival of cricket is not only opening Pakistan’s routes to increase tourism but also, enhancing the e-commerce sector of targeting Pakistan as a growing economy. With different international franchises starting their services in Pakistan, we have witnessed a huge rise in online cricket equipment stores as the sense of inclusion is being felt by the cricket fans nation-wide.
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