Imagine being smart but dumb. Imagine being visionary but blind. Imagine being intelligent but clueless. That is how most Pakistanis felt when New Zealand cricket officials decided just hours before the start of the match to call off the tour. An act based on "security threat". A threat based on some "intelligence report". A report that was unshared, unsubstantiated, unrevealed. Perhaps there is a new technology after artificial intelligence called "Invisible intelligence". Or, perhaps the Five Eyes intelligence company had a "sixth" eye that coloured the lens of the five snoopers. Some may call this baseless speculation. But when you just walk out of international commitments on the basis of a one-sided assessment, statement, movement and decision, talk and outrage will be the result.
Informed decisions are the buzzword of today. Data is mandatory. Surveys are imperative. Reports are foundation. Combine all three and you have a compelling case for making judicious choices. Products are launched on market studies. Elections are won on poll researches. And wars are waged on the basis of "credible" reports. Unfortunately, the fashion of having macro presentations and folders full of trend analysis has not only reduced individual bias but sadly also individual responsibility of the consequences of those decisions. The problem with all data is that it is collected, compiled and analyzed by people. As they say "Statistics is the art of legalized lying". When the consequences of certain decisions go wrong the blame is conveniently shifted to data errors. The recent cancellation of New Zealand cricket team tour in the most abrupt and uncalled for way was again based on some mysterious intelligence that sounded highly unintelligent. Reasons for such random ad hocism are:
More than just a Cricket Game- Logic defies the actions of New Zealand and English cricket boards. The New Zealand Board at 3 am in the morning of the first One day announced that due to some security intelligence they are leaving. They refused to share details and refused to discuss alternatives. They just left. The next day their women team playing in England got bomb threats that they called a hoax and carried on. England knew that they cannot use the security excuse so mumbled something about players' mental health and withdrew. Such excuses are not even discussable. The real game is the geo-politics in the region-Indian/ western alliance and the desire to isolate Pakistan. Cricket as a tool for global politics will suffer and Pakistan as a cricket playing country needs to deal with this 5th generation hybrid warfare in a holistic manner.
Insecurity of a different kind- There are serious security issues. Not in Pakistan and not in player safety. There are insecurity issues in countries that are powers and those that are "wanna be" powers. America has had a humiliating drubbing in Afghanistan. It is insecure of being stripped off the superpower title by China. India was tagged with China at one point as an emerging power but has lagged behind. Their fears, insecurities and obsessions with China and Pakistan respectively have made these two countries look at all means big and small of making Pakistan's existence difficult.
Habitual arrogance- Cricket calls them the 'Big three' and politics calls them the 'First world'. This class distinction has become a caste system. The big powers make rules, bend rules, break rules for themselves. Whether it is ICC (International Cricket Council) or IMF (International Monetary Fund) their dominant membership vote makes decisions many times that are detrimental to the very purpose of their existence. The unilateral way in which New Zealand and England have pulled out of their international commitment is a consequence of this egoistic mindset.
The big powers create these so-called "global institutions" and then make them as tools to carry out decisions made in exclusive clubs like G7, Quads, EU, etc. Five Eyes is another such "exclusive" intelligence club. The Five Eyes is an intelligence sharing arrangement between the US, UK, Canada, New Zealand and Australia, all English speaking countries. Coincidently it was Five Eyes that was watching over US "interests" in Afghanistan. For twenty years it provided US with what they wanted to see. That is why the Five Eyes was far from reality. As stated in the article "Five Eyes intelligence failure in Afghanistan or something worse" by Michael Mckinly published in the Public Policy journal on 16th September "All of the fault-finding accounts point to factors which, logically, imply a litany of flaws in the intelligence analysis and findings relating to Afghanistan: misreading the geopolitical realities of the region, misjudgements, and missteps - all of which contributed to the mismanagement and waste of resources, shortcomings of policy and, more bluntly, strategic blunders." The fact that Five Eyes was the source of security intelligence of New Zealand is enough to explain how and where the threat was manufactured. This setback is a call for not just sitting back and ruing injustice but taking dual assertive action:
Standing for the right- When you stand for the right, for some duration, you are alone. With time people follow you. Ever-since Pakistan has refused to provide bases to the US, some punitive measures have started happening. Already you see criticism from English cricketers and experts pouring in. Already you see more apologetic explanations coming in. Already there are news of British Government not being happy about ECB's reaction. Politically the desire to disturb Pakistan's ability to lead the peace process is being ridiculed by those who have been on the run from Afghanistan. Pakistan must keep up, keep connected with the Taliban, with the regional partners and with international forces. Let the cynics snigger and sound empty with time.
Creating strong repercussions- Meantime, time for compensation. Cases against New Zealand and England have to be water tight. Laws that cover financial compensation, loss of repute, and psychological hit on players should all be well framed. Compensation should include all categories of player reimbursements, stadium tickets, television rights, etc. Diplomatic means along with media should continue to show them the mirror. The legal aspect of unilateral cancellation and non-sharing of the threat alert must be made as a case of deliberate hiding of facts endangering lives of those in the country.
These are defining moments. Pakistan needs to refine its assertive and affirmative action. To counter this mistreatment the main campaign needs to be focused on unveiling the farcical network of security, insecurity, alarm and conflict fake content planted on the Indian occupied information highway. It is important that the thread of information that induced such extreme action by New Zealand should be traced. To do so ethical and moral pressure should be exerted from all ends. Intelligence is data based information that needs intelligent analyzers and decision makers. In New Zealand's case a deliberate attempt was made to hide the truth, stir uncertainty, and create chaos. Some may laugh and say that if wrong intelligence in Iraq and Afghanistan led to millions dying and trillions lost, a few tours cancelled will not count. But, beware the people scorned. Their wrath sometimes befalls in ways stranger than you expect. Let us all stand and be counted.
(The writer can be reached at [email protected]
Copyright Business Recorder, 2021