Pakistanis slam ‘shameful’ cricket board video omitting Imran Khan

Cricket fans, experts denounce PCB’s attempt to omit World Cup-winning captain Khan from video celebrating country’s cricket history.

Imran Khan of Pakistan lifts the World Cup after Pakistan beat England in the final at Melbourne.
Imran Khan led Pakistan to its first ICC World Cup title in 1992 [File: Getty]

Pakistani cricket fans have slammed the country’s cricket board for omitting former captain and Prime Minister Imran Khan from a social media video celebrating the national team’s successes since the country’s birth in 1947.

On Monday, commemorating the country’s 76th independence day, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) posted the video showing the country’s growth and success in the sport.

It was immediately criticised by fans who blamed the PCB for acceding to the country’s governing alliance’s “political agenda” and failing to include the World Cup-winning captain despite including video clips from the team’s triumph at the 1992 global tournament.

Khan was deposed as prime minister in April last year following a no-confidence vote in parliament. His political career has spiralled since, culminating in his arrest earlier this month and the country’s election commission barring him from politics for five years.

In the last few months, a de facto ban has been placed on broadcasters mentioning Khan’s name or showing his image. Pakistan’s media regulatory authority has also banned his speeches and press conferences from being given any airtime.

Khan represented Pakistan in international cricket for more than 20 years, retiring after leading Pakistan to the World Cup title in 1992.

He is widely regarded as one of the best cricketers in the sport’s history.

“Reminiscing in Pakistan cricket’s history, 11 images of the 1992 World Cup win and not one pic or mention of the greatest that ever played the game for the country!” former Pakistan women’s captain Urooj Mumtaz Khan said.

Pakistan cricket historian and journalist Osman Samiuddin said it must have taken “some effort” to make such a video without the “greatest Pakistani cricketer ever”.

British broadcaster and writer Peter Oborne termed the attempt to “airbrush” Khan from the history of Pakistan cricket “Stalinist”.

Khan holds several records in international cricket and is credited with the introduction of neutral umpires.

In 1994, Khan opened a cancer research hospital in his mother’s memory and with donations collected nationally and internationally, cementing his status as one of the country’s leading philanthropists.

The 70-year-old entered politics soon after his retirement and his biggest success came when his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party won the general election in 2018, propelling him to the country’s prime minister’s office.

However, Khan was deposed last April following the no-confidence vote after the Supreme Court ruled he acted unconstitutionally in previously blocking the process and dissolving parliament.

Khan has openly accused the country’s powerful military and its intelligence agency of trying to destroy his political career and the PTI.

The PCB, while an independent sport body, has often been managed at the behest of the country’s political leadership, with the top appointments – including the body’s chairman – coming from the PM.

“Expected Pakistan to be above petty politics especially since it constantly complains of political interference in other countries, PCB proving once again proving to be nothing but a puppet organisation,” said cricket writer Amer Malik.

Despite being jailed and barred from politics, Khan has remained an immensely popular leader and enjoys great support from young Pakistanis based in and outside the country.

Source: Al Jazeera