x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Cricket spirit invoked to help heal Pakistan

The spirit that took Pakistan's cricket team to victory this week must be harnessed to help the troubled country, community leaders say.

The spirit that took Pakistan's cricket team to victory this week must be harnessed to help the troubled country, community leaders say. At a celebration to mark the cricket team's win at the Twenty20 World Cup, hundreds of Pakistanis from the UAE gathered at the Pakistan Association of Dubai (PAD) headquarters to enjoy an evening of quizzes, dancing, food, live music and a presentation on the group's latest trip to Swat to deliver relief.

"Why did the cricket team win? They have won because inside the team there was team spirit, there was leadership," said Mohammed Khaleeq, the secretary general of the association. "We must show the world what we can do - Twenty20 is just the start. It is my wish you come with us, become friends, greet each other," he added. "We should get up and be role models in Dubai, use it as a platform. Whatever you are, you should represent Pakistan. The world will not give us grief if we are good role models."

The patriotic crowd of expatriates, from all walks of life from labourers to businessmen, cheered "Pakistan Zindabad" ("Long live Pakistan") throughout the evening and paid tribute to the victims of the Swat crisis. Since February, more than three million Pakistanis have fled their homes in the Swat valley as the military's drive to push out the Taliban has turned the region into a war zone. Kabul Wazir Mir, one of the PAD volunteers who has returned from the region, urged his countrymen to keep donating as much as they could.

"As we all stood united for Shahid Afridi and the cricket team, we must now stand united for Swat," he urged. Dr Saeed Khan Mahmoud, the consul general in Dubai, also attended the event. He said the consulate has received about Dh365,000 (US$99,000) from the community in donations, the highest of any consulate in the world. "Swat used to be a place where they made films," he said. "People used to go from Karachi to Swat on holiday; now they are fleeing Swat to go to Karachi."

asafdar@thenational.ae