I’m still on the steep part of the Pakistan learning curve. Even so, after four months it’s pretty clear there are two things that you need to know about in this place: Cricket and conspiracy theories. The two have come together rather neatly in the betting scandal, when Mazhar Majeed apparently accepted £150,000 in return for promising Pakistani bowlers would deliver no-balls to order. It didn’t take long for India, and its intelligence agency RAW, to be exposed as the hidden hand behind the slur on Pakistan
Mazhar Majeed told the undercover reporter that there are no major activities when the “Indian market is not open”. On the other side he has been closely interacting with Pakistani cricketers since many years. Mazhar Majeed is a RAW front man and holds a key position in RAW’s illicit fund generation program that includes running Mafia wings, running brothel houses, prostitution syndicates gambling dens, and betting on matches of Cricket, soccer and even tennis. He was handpicked by RAW and was put under the command of RAW’s Special Operations Division SOD, headed by Chhota Rajan where he was trained for sports betting.
This is the sort of stuff you’d expect here. What I didn’t expect was a senior politician to tell me the whole thing was a set-up, questioning the News of the World’s reputation (well, yes, I see the point) and that the video of the handover was probably filmed after the balls were bowled. He wisely asked for his comments to be off the record. After the meeting I watched Pakistan’s High Commissioner to London, Wajid Shamsul Hasan, say exactly the same thing to an assembled media throng.
This will not surprise Pakistani lovers of cricket. But another thing I am learning is that you shouldn’t expect cricket here to be cleaned up any time soon.