LOOKING for positive faces to show the world, Pakistan need go no further than its sportswomen. Although the state has never truly made the promotion of women in sports a priority, against the odds they have gone from strength to strength. On Friday, the Pakistan women’s cricket team made history by winning the inaugural cricket event of the Asian Games, crushing their opponents Bangladesh by 10 wickets. The gold medal, which jubilant team captain Sana Mir dedicated to women, flood survivors and terror-affected people back home, is Pakistan’s first during the Games. By no means are these women alone in raising the country’s profile in sports. During the SAF Games this summer, sprinter Nasim Hamid lifted the gold medal and gained the title of the fastest women in South Asia. She has the honour of being Pakistan’s first female athlete to win the gold in the SAF Games’ 26-year history. Her achievement is paralleled by that of Sara Nasir, who won the gold medal for karate. The women’s cricket team’s win deserves to be appreciated in a fitting manner, just as Nasim Hamid and Sara Nasir were appointed sport ambassadors by President Zardari after their success. However, recognition of their achievements must go further and translate into the state taking active steps to promote female athletes. Given that Pakistani women are often in the world headlines for all the wrong reasons, mainly with reference to the abuse of their rights, there is every reason to encourage and assist, materially and otherwise, women who have the will to win. Not only shall this empower women and help alter the patriarchal status quo, it will raise the country’s profile internationally. The humiliating cricket spot-fixing scandal will continue to haunt for a long time. Meanwhile, Pakistan can look to its sportswomen for glory.
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