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November 12, 2019

Shooting for success


November 12, 2019

Many of Pakistan’s sports, and its successes in these, go ignored. One of the sports Pakistan has excelled at in recent years is snooker, with the country's cueists shooting straight and sharply to win title after title for the country. Muhammad Asif has done so again by claiming the IBSF World Snooker Championships held in Ankara, Turkey. He defeated a player from the Philippines in the final match to win the event. Asif has also notched up other similar successes in the past. His dedication of the win to Kashmiris also indicates he is an aware and intellectually acute young man. Asif has said that he hopes to receive a warm welcome upon his return home. Of course, we hope this will be granted to him. But it is not common for sportsmen and women other than cricketers to be greeted at airports or hailed as heroes after victories in other sports.

An exception is that of Anita Karim, a young woman from Gilgit who won the One Warrior Series in Singapore and received an exuberant welcome by men, women and children, almost all of them from her own Gilgit community, at Islamabad airport where she arrived under heavy guard because of the crowds gathered there. This was in so many ways a wonderful sight to see. It highlighted both the achievements of the young woman and the attitude towards her by people from her home region. This needs to be expanded.

Pakistan’s snooker players, and others in sports including the martial arts, have had multiple successes. However, few know their names and certainly there have been few occasions where people have collected at airports to welcome them back. This tradition needs to change. All sports are equal. It is true cricket has drawn a huge following over the decades. For this, Pakistani cricketers deserve a huge amount of credit. But nations should not be confined necessarily to one sport alone. Muhammad Asif worked just as hard as our best-known cricketers to win his title. This must be acknowledged. Snooker, played in clubs across the country, chiefly because it is cheap and easy to set up and attracts lots of young men, should be encouraged further. So should every other game so that young people like Asif can gain the fame they yearn for and the kind of fame that would help other sports develop and take firm hold in the country.

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