A tight field for Pakistan

By Sohail Parwaz

Money being counted

It was probably the first week of January 2010 when a story, made the headlines in Indian and international newspapers. It was about Chris Cairns who announced his intentions to sue the Indian Premier League Commissioner Lalit Modi for making derogatory comments against the legendry New Zealander in relation to the IPL’s decision to withdraw Cairns’ name from the initial list of potential players. It’s a world known fact that Chris was suspended by his franchise Chandigarh Lions on disciplinary grounds and that was for nothing else but for the reason that he didn’t reveal that he had an injury. One of his colleagues and an Indian test cap Dinesh Mongia was also suspended for hiding Chris’ injury. The story was bent and buckled by few tabloid newspapers and channels that started reporting it as an outcome of some match fixing crime and with this hazy and far-fetched media stuff available the Indian Bully Boy, Lalit Modi levelled the allegation against the second generation all-rounder of the New Zealand cricket. When Modi’s comments appeared on his Twitter page and also in an interview with Cricinfo, Chris remarked dejectedly that, “The allegation made by Lalit Modi that I have been involved in match fixing is scandalous and it has caused me huge personal distress and professional damage”. That childish act of Modi made Chris think to sue him. On the other hand few weeks later Modi while watching IPL’s final in South Africa had a nibbling knowledge about the troubles waiting, back home, for him.

There was a complaint laid by an NGO that not all of the money promised in a cheque handover to the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund for the victims of last May’s Jaipur terror blasts had come through. Modi was granted bail on February 27, but was banned from leaving India without the Rajasthan High Court’s permission which he violated. The 45-year-old Modi was in fact, in the dog box over two complaints which endangered his cap as the president of the Rajasthan Cricket Association (RCA) and vice-president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India. The first case is about an alleged forgery over property the Mumbai-based Modi bought in Jaipur in September 2004 in order to qualify for the presidency of the RCA on the basis of residency. The crime was to produce fake documents in order to purchase the property. The other case is one which simply refuses to die, his conviction for cocaine possession, kidnapping and assault while studying at Duke University in the United States in 1985. Modi pleaded guilty to all charges, was fined $10 000 and was sentenced to two years in jail, which he never served as he was given probation instead.

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One might ask that why I am giving this account about an Indian Casanova who had a trail of failed ventures and defaults till four years back but has a lifestyle now that includes a private jet, a luxury yacht and a fleet of Mercedes S class and BMW cars all acquired in the last three years? Well the reason is very simple because the muck starts right from here. The senior Majeed brother (Mazhar Majeed) who made the startling disclosures to a reporter of the local tabloid, ‘The News of the World’ about matches and spots fixing is in fact a chum of Lalit Modi. The both have thick ties and exemplary covert relations. They both watch each other’s back. The only difference is that Lalit Modi is the senior partner. Soon it will also be disclosed that why the Pakistani players, called for the second edition of the IPL, were totally ignored and were not considered worth bidding. That surprised everyone and there were many who bite their fingers. That story will also be disclosed but only after the investigations that revealed that Lalit Modi has permanent interest in three teams; Rajasthan Royals, Kolkata Knight Riders and Kings XI Punjab. There were quite credible reports that Modi has silent ownership in these three IPL teams, no matter these are owned by Manoj Badale, Shah Rukh Khan & Jay Mehta, (Juhi Chawla’s husband) and Akash Arora, the part-owner of the team along with Ness Wadia and Mohit Burman.  The role which Majeed Brothers have played in case of Pakistani cricket team is being played by Samir Thakral who is loyally working as a front man for Lalit Modi and whose phone records show conversations with bookies. The serious investigations are on into possible match-fixing and betting in IPL Season 2 which took place in South Africa. In fact the Indian income tax department has safely declared that the IPL teams were involved in the match fixing during the IPL second edition. The sources besides fearing that several IPL players could have been involved have also indicated that phone conversations have also been recorded and that possible questioning of IPL players could happen in this regard. Although the Income Tax investigation wing has filed a confidential report to the Indian finance ministry yet we all know that nothing will ever happen because Mr. Shard Pawar an Indian politician and a close friend of Lalit Modi is at the helm of the affairs in ICC.

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Let me assure you that nothing will happen to the Majeed Brothers even, for their strong connection with Modi and for their strong bonds to India than their native country Pakistan. Thirty-five-year-old Majeed is a British born Pakistani having hardly any affiliation to the motherland. He attended Coulsdon High school and studied business at Middlesex University before forming Blue sky Developments with a friend, Faisal Hameed, in 1999. Mazhar Majeed is married to an Indian Muslim while his sister is also married to an Indian. As a friend Lalit had been discreetly looking after Croydon, Majeed’s non-league football club, which Majeed admitted to the reporter that he has been using to launder his illicit gains. So that makes a blur picture clearer. In course of his interactions with ‘News of the World’ Mazhar remarked: “I deal with an Indian party” and they pay me for the information.” Guess who else that could be except his dear friend Lalit. He apparently had messages from this person on his Blackberry mobile phone. More on this will undoubtedly be unearthed when the Scotland Yard will comb through his handset. No doubt the crisp currency aroma trapped the Pakistani players but if we look at the game from above it confirms that the boys were framed especially Muhammad Amir who was emerging as the most dangerous bowler at the horizon of the international cricket.

Even Jeff Lawson, who coached Pakistan for 15 months 2007 – 2008, felt sorry for this talented youngster said: “For me, it would be a great heartbreak if a young man such as Amir, a shining light of hope, has been led astray.” But he also added that Pakistan’s socio-economic situation needed to be taken into account before rushing in to judge the alleged actions of its cricketers. We must remember that we are judging these guys by the standards of our own country, when their situations are vastly different,” Lawson told The Age in Melbourne. He paid tributes to Amir by saying “The first time I met Mohammad Amir when he was 16, coming to an Under-19s camp. He comes from a small village near the Swat valley and was delayed by three hours because the Taliban had closed the highway. That doesn’t happen in this country.”

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Shane Watson reported sometime back that twice he was approached by an illegal Indian bookmaker in England last year. Watson and his team-mate Brad Haddin confirmed they were spoken to by the Indian man during the tour and immediately told Australia’s manager Steve Bernard. Not only this, the speeder Brett Lee and Mitchell Johnson were also approached during the England tour. Bernard has referred two other bookie-instigated conversations to the ICC during his term as manager.

The game of cricket, like the wrestling, has become an entertainment. Who can claim that football is clean or the basketball games in America are not betted? No game is 100% clean or played with professional spirit anymore. Time has come when bidding on a horse or betting on a player is one and the same thing so why to see the Pakistani cricketers in isolation? If at all it has to be investigated in letter and spirit then put in a little bit of sincere effort and it will lead you to the IPL, where Mr Thakral is a permanent fixture at all IPL matches with VIP access and carries out the betting on behalf of Lalit Modi according to the Times of India reporter.

The world has seen some masked face handing over the money and Mazhar Majeed accepting it. The fact is that no one has seen players taking the money. Well if this ‘sensational scene’ could be filmed then what stopped Mr. James Bond of the News of the World from making videos of money going into the ‘rightful hands’? As some paper rightly said that the allegation of match-fixing against Pakistani cricket team could be a part of greater Psy-ops against Pakistan to de-moralize the trodden Pakistani nation in which some of Asian and western well-wishers of Pakistan could be involved. Keep your fingers crossed and watch the proceedings for unexpected to come up.

Sohail Parwaz is a writer who has it in his genes. He has written scripts for TV plays, critical analysis of the currentscenarios and a couple of books. He has been contributing to Opinion Maker.

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