Making us proud

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The Pakistani women cricketers wrapped themselves in glory at Guangzhou by clinching the first-ever gold on the games debut in the premier Asian sporting spectacle. They did it with a measure of aplomb, coasting to victory without the loss of a wicket. In fact, such was the dominance of women in green that in four wins on course to the title, only as many wickets were lost. This is impressive stuff that should inspire their male compatriots now battling scandals and South Africa in the UAE.

Though it remains a point of conjecture whether Pakistan would have maintained the gold standard had better endowed outfits like India and Sri Lanka been in the field, still it should not detract anything from the win. The performance is significant from more angles than one. In all likelihood this may remain Pakistans only gold unless the Pakistan hockey team whose finishing top of the totem pole at the Asian Games was once such a matter of routine also surprises us by lifting itself to top of the podium. Despite this triumph, Pakistan is placed at 17th in the continental sporting hierarchy a steep fall from its sixth place finish when China last hosted the Games, at Beijing in 1990. This in itself puts our regression as an all-round sporting nation in sharp relief.

From our women, this pleasant surprise is the second one of 2010, after Naseem Hameeds superb dash that landed her gold and the sobriquet of the Fastest Woman in South Asia at Dhaka earlier this year. Such performances, few and far between as they may be, are indeed remarkable in the context of a milieu where the clergy and the fundamentalists combine to call womens taking part in sport irreligious. And where a first-rate international event like the Lahore Marathon had to be dumped because a certain religious party was up in arms against its mixed nature. This win thus is a tribute to the resilience, self-belief and can-do spirit that empowers the Pakistani women, an empowerment that is now reflecting in almost all walks of life from politics to business, to sport and myriad other professions.