Daily Times Editorial 31 October 2019

Pre-Olympic debacle


The upcoming Tokyo Olympic Games 2020 is likely to be a low-key affair for Pakistanis after the national hockey team failed to qualify. Our prime interest in the Olympics has mainly been about hockey at the expense of other games. When the national hockey team is playing a match the whole nation turns to TV sets. Not too surprisingly, the three-time Olympic champions, the Pakistan National Hockey team, failed to book its place in the high-profile sports event for the second time. The team got marching orders after suffering a humiliating 1-6 defeat against the Netherlands in the second qualifier. The Dutch made it a one-sided match and got an edge from the very first minute. By the first half whistle, the score was 4-0. Pakistan’s solo consolation came from Rizwan Ali in the 53rd minute.
Over the years, the hockey team’s performance has been deteriorating. Since the 1992 games in Barcelona, where the team won the bronze, it has failed to put up any impressive feat in the Olympics. What is more, other major tournaments have not seen any impressive performance from the green shirts either. In 2018, the only worth-mentioning achievement was a win in the Asian Champions Trophy in Muscat, where the team shared the victory stand with arch-rivals India after the rain washed out the final. In the World Cup, it failed to reach the quarter finals. Other than this tournament, the whole year the Pakistan Hockey Federation remained in the headlines for administrative and financial issues.

Just like the past, the recent debacle will trigger a customary shake-up in the Federation. After the change of a few faces, there will be a new normal unless the team fails to qualify for participation, what to say of winning, in a major event. This musical chairs has been going on for two decades and a repeat is likely to happen in the coming days too. Incumbent coaches and managers, who happen to be Olympians, will be replaced with some other star players or foreign coaches. No major change is going to happen unless Pakistani hockey undergoes radical changes. From team selection to maintaining team discipline and feeding them with nutrient-rich foods and good financial takeaway, the government needs to show determination to bring hockey glory back. This is a long chase, which is not going to be achieved by constantly changing goal posts.



Visit to held valley


By allowing a delegation of far-right European lawmakers into the occupied valley, and at the same time denying its own MPs a visit there, India has inadvertently admitted the disputed status of held Kashmir. The European delegation asked for visiting the valley, which the Modi government allowed, mainly to calm the international pressure. The development, however, has angered the Indian MPs and civil society activists who have been denied entrance to the valley under lockdown and communication blackout since August 5 this year. Earlier, India refused to allow a US senator to visit Occupied Kashmir. European delegates were also not allowed to tour streets and meet common people. Chris Davies, MEP from Britain’s centrist Liberal Democrats, said the Indian government refused to take him to Srinagar after he demanded that he be allowed a visit to city streets without a police escort. He even called the visit “a PR stunt for the Modi government and pretend that all is well”. Under a heavy security watch, the lawmakers were greeted with clashes despite curfew in place in Srinagar. The Indian police resorted to tear gas and shotgun pellets to disperse the protesters.
The European visitors have yet to issue their statement but despite a very well-guarded and orchestrated exercise, they have seen the reaction of Kashmiris against the revocation of the valley’s autonomy. The recent shame will force the Modi government to inflict even harsher measures on Kashmiris. The place, already a no-go area for international journalists, is likely to remain disconnected from mainstream India and the world. The Modi government, which revoked the special status to Kashmir in the Indian constitution on the pretext of mainstreaming it, has met with a strong backlash against the development by the people of India-held Kashmir. Several thousands of extra troops have been deployed in the valley to control the situation, and in the self-created mayhem, Delhi has lost the support of the few pro-India politicians that have been detained since August 5.
Despite Internet shutdown and the overall lock down, India has failed to hide its atrocities against Kashmiris. In a fresh rebuke, the UN High Commission for Human Rights said it was “extremely concerned” at the situation. Side by side, a 109-page book by Amnesty International, a compilation of the stories of the Kashmiris blinded by palette gunshots, has brought forth the ugly reality. *
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