Simply Not Cricket!

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The other day travelling back from work, I happened to pop in to my local Pakistani takeaway. This one advertised Peri-Peri chicken and ‘hot’ wings (which I love). Plus the manager loves to talk about nature, and the way in which Allah ordains the times of every living thing, and cares for them. Amazing that, an ordinary grass roots Pakistani/British citizen who inspite of all the corruption his aging eyes have seen still believes in God. It was a miracle I got served, given who was on the television, none other than the Chairman of PTI, Imran Khan. A former Pakistani cricketer making a speech in front of a thousand strong audience in Pakistan about corruption in politics.


PTI calls itself a centrist party advocating for an egalitarian model of an Islamic democratic welfare state. And it is the fastest growing political party in Pakistan; with over 10 million members in Pakistan and abroad. It received the second largest popular vote in the country, with a little over 7.5 million people voting for it on election day.Following massive allegations of rigging in the 2013 general election, Imran Khan‘s political party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) demanded a probe into electoral rigging in 4 constituencies as a litmus test for the rest of the election process. Government inaction in this regard led the PTI to organise several jalsas (lit. protest demonstrations) throughout Punjab, which is prime minister Nawaz Sharif‘s political stronghold.


In August 2014, Imran Khan stated that for 14 months, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf had tried to bring those who were responsible for rigging to justice, all in a legal manner through state institutions. The PTI produced a 2100-page white paper showing evidence of rigging. Despite this, no action was taken. Imran Khan argued that, normally, in any democracy, the Supreme Court of that nation would have nullified the results and called for fresh elections. Even after the evidence was presented and revelations by Afzal Khan, former additional secretary of the election commission, the Supreme Court also took no action.


The average British citizen might ask what this has to do with British politics; the answer is very, simple. Imran Khan and his party have taken up the anti-corruption cause and the people of Pakistan are flocking to him in their thousands. Because quite simply if the people on top can get away with being very, very, greedy, then the rest of society is travelling to hell in a hand basket.

Witness the likes of the Croydon Conservative Council Leader who quietly applied for a raise to his £100,000 salary, at a time when Croydon Council is being forced to consider cutting 500 jobs for lesser salaried employees. The erstwhile Rotherham PCC who spent fourteen years enjoying one lucrative pay cheque after another (whilst failing to do his job). Now the man is fighting tooth and nail to hold onto a job in which he’s no longer wanted. Would he be fighting quite so hard if the salary were £8,500 and not £85,000?

To take on Nawaz Sharif and his secreted millions and the politically powerful elite he’s part of is a very brave move. But then if the PTI weren’t that brave there’d be little point in believing in a beneficent Allah and the mosques of Pakistan would very likely be empty.


Coshed In Translation

Whatsoever therefore is consequent to a time of Warre, where every man is Enemy to every man; the same is consequent to the time, wherein men live without other security, than what their own strength, and their own invention shall furnish them withall. In such condition, there is no place for Industry; because the fruit thereof is uncertain; and consequently no Culture of the Earth; no Navigation, nor use of the commodities that may be imported by Sea; no commodious Building; no Instruments of moving, and removing such things as require much force; no Knowledge of the face of the Earth; no account of Time; no Arts; no Letters; no Society; and which is worst of all, continual fear, and danger of violent death; And the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.”

(Life In A Time Of Civil War)

Thomas Hobbes ‘The Leviathan’


Given Hobbe’s description of anarchy before strong central government, it’s easy to understand why Syrians, Iraqui’s and Somalians have elected not only to flee to Britain but also to take up permanent residence here. We all get, why residing in a nation in which Curry is the national dish, and Strictly Come Dancing’’ the national pastime is preferable to hiding out in a bomb shelter somewhere in down town Baghdad.

What we fail to get is why it’s necessary for an impoverished citizen, seeking leave to remain in Britain to have to cough up fifty pounds for a citizenship test. I grew up in a neighbourhood replete with at least half a dozen nationalities, Ghanaians lived cheek by suspicious jowl with Nigerians, Catholic Irish learned to accommodate living alongside Muslims, and Kenyan Hindu’s soon learned to resign themselves to the vociferous ways and meat eating tendencies of Africans in general. Turks tolerated their Greek neighbours who in turn learned to tolerate them. All were culturally very different; all had learnt to rub along in order to get along. From reciting vast tracts of Shakespearian prose to drinking tea in the morning each culture had brought some aspect of ‘Britishness’ with them to England, it wasn’t considered necessary to inculcate them into the ‘British way of life’.


“Do you speak English?” a familiar phrase spoken sardonically by the Somalian students I was privileged to work with several years ago. Several teaching staff (some of them from overseas), had taken one look at the conservatively dressed Somalian kids the state obliged them to educate, and had made the mistake of querying their ability to speak fluent English. I soon learned that they not only weren’t expected to speak fluent English they weren’t entitled to hold views that conflicted with British Liberal thinking either. Try teaching speaking & listening or speech writing to a student who is silently discouraged from voicing his dissent with England’s warmongering policies abroad or extolling the benefits of wearing the Niqab. It seemed to me that all of a sudden it wasn’t enough to be speaking English and receiving an English education, these kids were being manipulated into thinking British and versing British ideas as if they were their own.

Single-White-FemaleYou know what you get when you have people parroting ideas they don’t really believe in just to fit in? A facsimile of the real thing, kind of like the movie ‘Single White Female’, dresses like Allie, talks like Allie, it even looks like Allie but it’s really Allie’s psychotic flat mate. 

And so we come to the real issue at hand, the need of immigrant communities to England to feel accepted & hence as protected as everyone else from rampant exploitation. The need to have some redress when they find themselves forced to reside in uninhabitable housing. The right to good schooling, devoid of the kinds of racism casually displayed in some instances, towards pupils who dress in a way that indicates their religious beliefs. The right to good jobs; once they’ve trained for them. The right to practice their religious beliefs freely, and request that their children be fed in keeping with their religious beliefs. The right to hold to their customs and way of life, so long as those customs don’t cause inhumane suffering, to those amongst them who don’t believe in them. The right, in short, to have their way of life respected where it does not impinge on democracy or democratic values.


So what’s the citizenship test really about? Immigrant communities cutting themselves off from the main stream and needing to be assimilated back within it? There are members of other communities taking up Hinduism and embracing Islam precisely because of the openness and warmth of these immigrant communities. Or is this simply another facet of the Neo-Con agenda wherein the ‘British Values’ being extolled and which students are expected to study (in order to pass the test), are simply those values which typify a middle class, ‘little Englander’ near xenophobic way of thinking. Because if this is, why are we as taxpayers (and include those seeking citizenship in that ‘we’) partially funding the courses giving rise to these tests? Isn’t this simply us, funding the exploitation of immigrants by the private sector?