Politics April 13, 2007

Younis Khan, a committee, and a circus

Pakistan's cricketers must be quite confused. One minute they are appearing before a parliamentary committee, the next it's one set up by the PCB for reasons of "performance evaluation." In between there are ad-hoc committees on television, where the multiplication of channels has spawned an orgy of pontification and inquisition about the malign state of affairs in Pakistan cricket. Oh yes, and let's not forget the burning effigies.

In the wake of all this angst Younis Khan has declined the captaincy. Nothing predicts behaviour like behaviour, as any good psychiatrist will tell you, and Younis has already shown his reluctance to take on the captaincy unless he is perfectly happy. I wonder how somebody could refuse the leadership of his country at a moment such as this? When Younis turned it down before the Champions Trophy I received an email from Bob Woolmer that described how baffled he was by Younis's behaviour. And Bob always supported Younis.

I think Younis should have taken the job if it was offered to him. As Imran Khan said, why become vice-captain in the first place? But whatever the true reasons behind this decision at least he had the good sense to clear the air and the battle between the rest can begin. What I can say with certainty is that this isn't a problem that will be resolved by the performance evaluation committee.

Many of us have been through this movie before. When you don't know what to do but want to look proactive, form a committee. I can't remember anything good ever coming out of one of these committees, largely because they comprise people whose opinion you couldn't care less about and who don't really know what they are doing. Consequently they fail to hit the mark or be taken seriously.

The current mobile inquest, the one supposedly designated to investigate performance, has only produced one piece of wisdom (the stuff PJ Mir came out with wasn't a revelation to anybody who has observed this team closely over the last year or so), and that wisdom was produced by somebody who hasn't appeared before the committee. Shaharyar Khan, the former diplomat and chairman of the PCB, asked a simple question: Why is Salim Altaf, a key player in the World Cup debacle, now sitting in judgment upon himself?

Well said, Mr Khan. His successor Dr Ashraf mumbled some platitudes about integrity in his first major press conference since his boss refused his resignation. Integrity isn't just a word to toss around to impress your listeners with, you have to earn it through your deeds and your actions. Salim Altaf's seat on the performance evaluation committee is a bad start to this age of accountability and integrity. Indeed, his committee is a touring three-ring circus whose conclusions will be consigned to the dustbin of history like all the other committees-cum-circuses that went before it.

What a cracking start. Things can only get better, you might think. But then again, that's what Tony Blair sang a decade ago and look what he did.

Kamran Abbasi is an editor, writer and broadcaster. He tweets here