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From Tokyo to Islamabad

Syed Talat Hussain


The writer is a senior journalist and a leading national broadcaster with years of international media experience.

Thank God, the Tokyo Olympics are over. The world may have enjoyed for 16 days but for us, every day was nothing but a moment of shame. Talha Talib and Arshad Nadeem gave a few moments of joy, but in the end, they had to bite the dust. One’s arm did not work and the other’s shoulder. In global competitions, it doesn’t matter whether you are a local hero or not; only the first three positions matter. We finished a dismal fifth in both events. It is useless to say that both tried their best. The Olympics is not a game of effort, it is a game of victory and defeat.  There were 33 sports played in about two weeks. Around 1,043 medals were distributed. 82 countries stood on the stage winning one game or another. We did not get a single one. Neither was the anthem played nor the flag was waved. They came back empty-handed just as they had gone.

General retired Arif Hassan, head of the Pakistan Olympic Association, however, is still firmly in office. His 17-year tenure is not over yet. Now they are claiming there were no resources. If so then why would they be still doing this comfy job? Maybe they have abundant resources but not for the players. The question remains what have they been doing for the past 17 years? They simply have no answer.

You can also use the Tokyo Olympics as a political metaphor. Every few years in Pakistan, we are told that if a serving or retired person is appointed to a position for a long period of time, the system can be fixed. Nowadays the retired hardly get their turn, those serving are present everywhere.

Politicians are worthless and destroy institutions by hiring incompetent people. If we get rid of them the country can reach new heights.

This is precisely what Ayub Khan, Zia-ul-Haq, Pervez Musharraf and now Imran Khan keep telling the nation. They also often mention Pakistan’s brilliant talent and abundant resources. They increase our imagination with hidden treasures and gifts from the sky. Prime Minister Imran Khan once increased the number of seasons from four to six and eventually a dozen. Just like Musharraf once divided Kashmir into seven parts on the occasion of Iftar hosted by Sheikh Rashid at a five-star hotel in Islamabad.

The real problem of the country is the absence of competent people in positions. These include all serving and retired ones. Our performance at the Olympics [it hurts to use this word] negates all this political philosophy. General retired Arif’s illustrious career began under General Musharraf. He could easily get whatever he asked for. He could build the best training grounds he wanted. Even George W. Bush would have sent an American trainer on a special plane. America needed us at the time. Today we are not even called to UN meetings.  

Sadly nothing happened, the medal box was empty then and is still today. This was followed by two periods of PPP and PML-N. Let’s assume they were sinners and the evil deeds were embraced by our athletes. Then the angels of goodness became the guardians of Pakistan whose leader has not one, but 3 PhDs in sports. The result is still nil.

This means that rectifying the system and the nation’s dignity is not about individuals but planning and sincere effort. For those whose aim is to safeguard their seats, even if they spend twenty years, it will not make any difference. They will enjoy themselves, utilise all resources, arrange for the luxury of their future generations, but the country will be not gain anything. And when they are asked a question, they will have the audacity to say that we did what we could and am not answerable to you. The Tokyo Olympics are a lesson for Islamabad politics, if only someone wants to learn.

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