Shoaib Akhtar: Conscience of the Superstars
What quips, quirks, snafus and scandals does Pakistan’s future hold? Tazeen Javed time travels to 2017 and blogs about what makes the Land of the Pure tick – or is it explode? – in the coming decade.
April 1, 2017
LAHORE: The last remaining super star of Pakistani cricket, Shoaib Akhtar, is still battling it out with the Pakistan Cricket Board. When the TV cameras caught up with Akhtar outside the cricket board offices, he vowed to make it back to the team and shared with the media his new fitness regime, which consists of him walking 100 meters without either a walking stick or power enhancing drugs. He also blamed the board for his poor performance and lack of consistency and said that he spent a better part of the day getting the cricket board to pay his old unpaid medicals bills dating back to 2009 – as a result, he cannot concentrate on his game.
Apart from the long drawn out battle with the cricket board on unpaid medical bills, Akhtar is involved in 11 other cases and is being considered for an award for his role in keeping the lawyers community afloat. He is a joint contender for the award along with Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, who has been fighting for a free judiciary for a whole decade. Of the 11 lawsuits that Akhtar has been fighting, one is against Kolkata Knight Riders for unceremoniously dumping him eight years ago. The team has changed ownership twice since then (Shahrukh Khan’s wife got the team in divorce settlement, but later sold it to Karan Johar. The erstwhile Mrs Khan was of the opinion that Johar can appreciate dirty, sweaty men a lot more than she ever could). But Akhtar is still battling on.
Other legal cases include, but are not limited to, a hit-and-run incident on Rawalpindi-Lahore Motorway, growing marijuana in his backyard and gifting it to neighbours’ under-age kids, two cases of assault against teammates, three paternity cases in two countries, and a couple of lawsuits against a cola giant for dropping him and causing him irreversible emotional damage. In order to pay for his ever-mounting legal fees, Akhtar has decided to auction his infamous bat with which he assaulted a former teammate. It is rumoured that the former teammate, who now supplies soft drugs to the whole of the Middle East since their legalization following 2010’s Dubai’s real estate market crash, will be buying that bat for nostalgic reasons.
Last but not least is his ongoing battle with the Indian judicial system, which has repeatedly denied his attempts at adopting an Indian orphan. It was almost nine years ago when Akhtar first revealed the intention to adopt a child from Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity. When asked why he singled out Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity, he said that as he was always partial to the name Teresa and would want it to be part of his adoptive child’s life. When contacted, a member of Indian judiciary revealed that it is not his history of violence and substance abuse that is hindering his chance at adoption, they are more concerned about the probable influence of Akhtar’s former teammates who are now running Hajj and Umrah tours and have close ties with Osama Bin Laden and Junaid Jamshed. It is heard that the state of Malawi slackened its adoption laws, especially for celebrities from far far away lands. Akhtar, being the philanthropist softie he is, does not mind adopting a child from Malawi, as long as it get the same media coverage as an adoption would get in Mumbai. Unfortunately, adoption agencies in Malawi cannot guarantee that as they do not take care of adoption-related PR. It is clearly stated in the standard adoption contract that the celebrity is required to arrange his own post-adoption press junket and cute baby photos.
Like the original playboy of Pakistani cricket, Imran Khan, Akhtar is also building a hospital. Unlike Khan, who built the hospital in honour of his mother who perished from cancer, Akhtar’s hospital would be devoted to cure skin diseases. It is still unknown if it is being built to honour a particular person or if it is something he likes to be associated with? Some detractors of the national hero said that there would be a special ward in the hospital for the ‘thick skinned’, to honour the cricketer himself.
Akhtar believes that he is the most misunderstood celebrity of our times and blames the cricket board and media for the PR debacle that is his life. Although many would disagree, Akhtar fills a huge vacuum in Pakistan’s media industry. We do not have people like Prince Harry and Paris Hilton, but we need people who can fill the air-time of local TV channels and serve as tabloid fodder. Akhtar is doing just that. Who can help but be charmed by such social service?
PS: Can someone please fwd this link to Shoaib Akhtar if they happen to know him?