by Lubna Jerar Naqvi
Wednesday, February 09, 2011
Pakistan should have its own “hall of shame,” as a number of “famous” Pakistanis have managed to bring shame to the country in their respective fields. And don’t even start me on politics, showbiz and sports. Presently, the country’s image and reputation is down in the dumps, but that has become an accepted norm for most of us.
Courtesy three of its cricketers, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Asif and Salman Butt, Pakistan is in the news (again – not that it has ever been out of it in the past couple of decades, and more). These three “celebrities” have been in and out of the news for the spot-fixing scandal that erupted last year. These national heroes have managed to destroy the gentlemen’s game of cricket in this cricket-loving country, and brought shame to Pakistan. Salman Butt has been banned from playing cricket for ten years (out of which five have been suspended), Mohammad Asif for seven years (with two years suspended), and Mohammad Amir for five years.
People, including several cricket experts, think that the players have been let off too easy and that their punishment should have been more severe. But many experts have said that this punishment will act as a warning to other players not to go the same way, otherwise we’ll find ourselves in another scandal in a couple of years, or even less.
At this moment Pakistan needs an efficient PR team to help improve its global image. It won’t be a bad idea for us to get “foreign experts” to teach our rulers, our so-called leaders, our politicians and showbiz personalities, as well as our sportspeople – in short Pakistanis, including the educated ones – on how to go about their business in the appropriate way. And how to project themselves and their country abroad.
Pakistanis, the celebrities, in particular, need to be trained to improve their image. They must be made aware that once they are famous they are living in a glass house; the world sees everything they do, and in a way their business becomes everyone’s else’s business. When they are out in the world representing their country they need to be taught to carry themselves with dignity and not get involved in, let’s say, unsavoury acts.
Pakistan has enough serious problems plaguing it at the moment – with terrorism, political instability and corruption probably topping the list – and no one steering the country. While our so-called leaders participate in the shouting matches aired daily on talk shows, the country is increasingly becoming vulnerable to inside and outside pressures and threats. Are they trying to make their TV careers at the talk shows at the expense of their duty to the country?
Now the vital question: Why is it that many times when Pakistanis set out in the world to make a mark, the country ends up hanging its head in shame? This is because our so-called celebrities and stars have no sense of right or wrong. Perhaps it is because they have grown up in a society where corruption is rampant, fundamental rights are trampled, the strong crush the weak, and everyone works for their personal benefit, regardless of everyone and everything else. It’s weird that some countries actually follow laws! It may be something we can’t comprehend, but it does happen.
So when these people, who in some cases have been almost literally picked off the streets for their talents, are overwhelmed by the attention and run around like headless chickens.
These headless chickens – err, the clueless new celebrities – are ill-equipped to handle the sudden limelight that comes with success, because of which they unknowingly embark on a path of self-destruction (that’s where they really succeed, if that’s the word). And in the process pull down the image of the already struggling country.
The disregard for rules is flagrant in Pakistan. Some of us learn the hard way that it is not so in other societies. Generally, misdeeds, breaking of rules, and crime are punished in most other parts of the world. You cannot scream on talk shows like our politicians do. You cannot use your contacts for undeserved personal gain. Nor can you pay bribes to evade the law or threaten and cajole people to get your way. No, siree, outside Pakistan if you break the law, you are fined and punished. Or, as in this case, face global humiliation.