By Dr. Raja Muhammad Khan
In the world of sports, match fixing has a history, originating from the ancient city-states. During the primitive Olympics, athletes used to accept bribes for losing the matches in spite of the fact that they used to be under the oath to protect the integrity of that specific sports event, the respect of team itself, and their countries. The players and other people associated with the act punished at times for their doings. In the same way, match fixing has hardly been a secret in the in the world of cricket too. Over the last, few decades almost all famous cricket teams of the world found involved in it either, directly or indirectly and at individual or collective level.
The world-renowned players who fell-prey to this dissipated act include; the former South African Captain Hansie Cronje, Mohammad Azharudin, the former Indian cricket star and captain and a number of other Asian, European and African players besides, Indian and Pakistani players. The current episode of the match fixing, where three Pakistani cricketers are suspected to be involved, is indeed, a continuation of what has been happening in the world of cricket since last so many years. Nevertheless, amazingly, this event has been given unprecedented media coverage and so much importance, as if something new has happened on the planet earth.
Without a thorough investigation and a fair trial, a number of the team players were declared guilty of having received huge amounts for losing the match to England, even when the match was underway. No doubt, the act if it has taken place is worth condemning even if a single player found involved in it. The player(s) or the team as a whole must be punished for that as per the rule of the country or under the set rules of international cricket. Even after the passage of over ten days, the controversy is not coming to its end. From the pattern of British media exploitation and incessant debates, one could find that it is a deliberate effort to defame Pakistani cricket team and the country at a time once its people are suffering from the flood; the worst natural disasters of the history.
The reality of the matter is that the central charter of the event, Mr. Mazhar Majeed, has contacts with some Pakistani players since long. A UK media man, who showed his pictures while getting 150,000-pounds sterling from an agent in a local hotel, in turn trapped Mazhar Majeed. Mazhar Majeed is a UK national. The only linkage of Mazhar Majeed with the Pakistani team was perhaps established because of his ancestral linkage with Pakistan. Born in the Croydon, Mazhar Majeed and his brother Azhar Majeed, are sons of Abdul Majeed, a highly respected British national of Pakistan origin. Mr. Abdul Majeed, originally a resident of Moonishi Mohallah Faisalabad, settled in Britain in 1960s. Mazhar Majeed completed his basic education from Coulsdon High School and later joined Middlesex University in North London as a business student.
In 1999, Mazhar Majeed along with one of his friend, Faisal Hameed, formed a property development company with the name of ‘Blue Sky Development.’ Currently, Mazhar claims the directorship of twenty-eight companies. He also owns the Croydon Athletic Football Club. Upon investigation and arrest, Mazhar Majeed told police that he has links with some Pakistan cricketers. This was not the first contact between this broker and the Pakistani team. Rather, he remained in contact with the team during its visit to Australia. He also admitted that these cricketers he manipulated the match in the favour of England. As per recent investigation by Scotland Yard, three to four players have been found involved in getting the money from Mazhar Majeed. The players who accepted the money, declared that this was the sponsorship money rather a bribes for the match fixing. The legal formalities are still underway; however, this was not a unique incident that could have become the focus of international media.
Unfortunately, the western media and especially, “The News of the World,” did not point out the relationship between the bookie Mazhar Majeed and his roots in India. Indeed, Mazhar Majeed is maintaining his strong links in India. He himself admitted with ‘The News of the World’ that, “I deal with an Indian party. They pay me for information.” Otherwise, over ninety percent match fixers are in either India or Indian living elsewhere in the world, including a vast number in England and Dubai UAE. Through betting, billions of dollars are being earned by the bookies and their agents like Mazhar Majeed. In 2000, Indian police and Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) have investigated the match fixing scandal, which ended the career of two “celebrated captains, South Africa’s Hansie Cronje and India’s Mohammad Azharuddin.”
On the insistence of the Indian bookies, Mazhar Majeed has been persuading Pakistani players since long. Indian bookies otherwise work in concurrence with the RAW, which effectively monitor the activities of these bookies. Besides, Mazhar Majeed and some of his family members are consider to be maintaining strong links with the Indian spying network. The recent wave of the deliberate defaming campaign against Pakistan appears to be part of the same. In this regards, the British media together with the Indian media have orchestrated a well thought out campaign for involving Pakistani cricket team in this match fixing scandal. Because of his Pakistani origin, Mazhar Majeed has been used to ensnare Pakistani cricket players.
Otherwise, the practice of defaming Pakistan has been going on since last few months. Apart from the media of these two friendly countries, the officials too are involved in this defaming campaign. So much so, the incumbent British Premier Mr. David Cameron has accused Pakistan for the perpetrating the terrorism. During his visit to India, Mr Cameron had a big mouth to say that, Pakistan is “exporting terror.” His statement has created a huge controversy and seriously dented the bi-lateral relationship between Pakistan and Britain. Whereas, everyone know that all Sub-nationalists and anti-Pakistan elements from various parts of the Pakistan have been given refuge in Britain and they are treated as political victims and asylum seekers, as if there is some wave of political victimization is going on in Pakistan.
This is worth mentioning that currently, there is not a single political prisoner in Pakistani jails. The people who are given refuge or political asylum in England, through the help of various intelligence networks operate in Pakistan and support the secessionists’ movements. The host and the intelligence network, operative in Pakistan, also arrange funding to these anti-state elements. Azad Baloch and such like others are part of this incentive package. Indeed, if we trace the history, right from the inception of Pakistan in 1947, the role of British media and at time its top hierarchy has never been encouraging for Pakistan. The UK governments together with the India, has hardly missed a chance to target Pakistan and Pakistani interests.
There is a need to end the controversy over the match fixing and the deliberate defaming campaign against Pakistan. The practice has indeed, debarred the world from assisting Pakistan at the crucial moments once over 23 million people have been worst affected by the flood. Owing to the unprecedented damages to crops, properties, houses, civic facilities and communication infrastructures in over 79 districts of Pakistan, the losses have been estimated as over 100 billion rupees. The world should have been forthcoming to assist Pakistan, but the British and Indian media trial over match fixing has diverted the attention from the real issue.
For the good cause of humanity, let us end the media trial to this match fixing controversy both globally as well as domestically and pay attention to the real cause. Had the same media campaigned for the global donations and assistance for the flood affected people in Pakistan, it would have earned lot of respect and good will. Indeed, addressing the human miseries is too big a cause and cricket is too small an event, to be given preference over the former.
Dr Raja Muhammad Khan is a PhD in International Relations from Karachi University. Presently he is an Associate Professor with National University of Defence, Islamabad. His area of research is South Asia, Central Asia, Middle East and the Regional Conflicts.
He has published numerous papers in various publications. Now he is a regular contributor to Opinion Maker.