The most common complaint I receive from people about CHUP is the definite lack of “light” and “happy” coverage of Pakistan. For that I apologize, and, thanks to a friend who passed this story onto me, managed to discover a silver lining to the events clouding our country this week. BBC News today reported on the “Inter Islamabad Madrassa cricket tournament.” The news agency noted, “Less than a year back, [religious] students like these were seen on Islamabad’s streets, armed with batons and guns, fighting security forces.” However, the “winds of change” following the February 2008 elections seems to have altered their attitudes as well. “Batons,” noted the BBC, have subsequently been replaced by “bats and balls,” as seminaries attempt to salvage their “badly-dented” reputation by holding this cricket tournament, the first of its kind.
The matches are being played with tennis balls and track suits instead of the traditional Pakistani shalwar-kameez, but they are not without controversy. According to the BBC, “One of several boards running the affairs of Pakistan’s seminaries opposed the tournament, calling it ‘un-Islamic.’” As a result, four teams pulled out of the cricket tournament. Some of the Red Mosque (also known as Lal Masjid) students told the BBC they attended the tournament against the wishes of their teachers. But one student asserted, “It gives us the opportunity to show to the world that we can perform in sports too, like our studies…We want to prove we’re not terrorists.” [Image courtesy of the BBC]