Shedding the fear that had gripped the country amidst a fresh wave of terrorist attacks, thousands of cricket lovers thronged Lahore’s Gaddafi Stadium to watch the final of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) 2017 edition. Lahore was just like the centre of the universe for the cricket enthusiasts as people from all parts of the country were there to witness the historic match that would boost the prospects for the revival of cricket in Pakistan. The PSL final between Quetta Gladiators and Peshawar Zalmi proved that Pakistani nation has defiantly defeated the monster of terrorism. In order to avoid any untoward incident, foolproof security was provided to the players and they enjoyed the event. All foreign players were happy and they wanted to be again in Pakistan for any such event in future.
The people of Pakistan have rightly proved that they are peaceful and peace-loving citizens and they have long been pining for the revival of international cricket in their homeland. Successful holding of the mega event has given a strong message to all the international players and teams that they should visit Pakistan as the country is safe and our people are passionate about this beautiful game. The Government of the Punjab was so determined to hold this event that the Chief Minister Punjab, Mian Shahbaz Sharif, himself took a keen interest and monitored all the security measures. Although some of his comments and statements didn’t go down well with cricket fans, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan also appreciated the multitudes of spectators that attended the occasion. Let it be very clear to everyone, it was not about cricket only; it was the matter of promotion of the soft image of Pakistan and by the grace of Almighty we were successful. Activities associated with international cricket usually have long- and short-term impact on the national soft image, economy and tourism prospects.
Pakistani cricket grounds presented a deserted look after the fateful attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in 2009. No international players were ready to come to Pakistan as they were not satisfied with the security situation in the country. Although exemplary punishments were handed down to those involved in this heinous crime, it didn’t prove any help to the PCB which continuously tried to persuade the International Cricket Council (ICC) to relax banning rules. Pakistan, however, was successful in securing the visit of Zimbabwe cricket team to Pakistan in 2015, but it, as media reports suggest, was not the result of confidence-building measures with the ICC or other foreign countries rather it was through the sources as the PCB had paid 12,500 dollars to each Zimbabwean player. However, this time the PCB’s decision to conduct the PSL final in Lahore was not about money or something else; it was all about a bold, inclusive and decisive national attitude that reflects a better and a different future for Pakistan.