Pakistan Test Cricket Team Skipper Misbah Ul Haq Bats for a Humanitarian Cause
By Ras H. Siddiqui
The captain of the Pakistan Test Cricket team, Misbah-ul-Haq Khan Niazi was in the San Francisco Bay area recently batting for a humanitarian cause at a private gathering in Danville and at a public event at the Chandni Restaurant in Newark on September 3 rd and 4 th respectively.
This writer caught up with him at the Danville gathering hosted by members of the Pakistani-American community in the area. Both events were arranged in a hurry and had there been more time, we could also have hosted him in Sacramento and even as far away as Boston, Massachusetts from where a request to host the skipper was received.
Misbah’s current tour reportedly started on August 28 th in Los Angeles. He is batting this time to support an all-girls orphanage with a difference - Saba Homes ( www.sabatrust.org ) in Rawalpindi, Pakistan. To quote from their website “Saba Homes is not a typical orphanage. A typical orphanage is made of bricks and mortar while Saba Homes is made of hopes and dreams. Saba Homes is geared towards developing Pakistan’s human potential by educating these girls, providing them the best living standards, giving them formal and informal training, giving them religious and traditional education of highest standards, preparing them for practical life and the challenges that it poses, and to groom them as potential leaders and entrepreneurs of our country and beyond.” Saba Homes is the brainchild of Saghir Aslam and his wife Bushra from the Southern California area.
The event started a bit late but a dinner from Shalimar made up for the delay, before Captain Misbah arrived along with his charming wife, son and very active daughter (along with possibly other relatives or family friends). And he did not head straight for dinner although he had not eaten - preferring to wait for the Saba Homes fundraiser segment first. And before we get to that, first impressions can be shared, since this is the first time many of us have seen him in person. Misbah is another clean cut member of the Niazi Pathan clan from Mianwali (the other being the legendary Imran Khan). They are known for both their good looks and leadership abilities and Captain Misbah is no exception. He is certainly not an extrovert and took his time to warm up to his surroundings here. It can sometimes be intimidating for celebrities when eager fans mob them immediately upon entry even in small private gatherings. But he handled himself well.
To kick off the fundraiser, Muhammad Niyaz, Media & Communications Manager for Saba Homes, gave a short presentation. He said that the founder of Saba, Mr Saghir Aslam, decided that he was going to do something for orphan girls in Pakistan after his own daughters were married. He is now devoting a great deal of his time to this project. Niyaz thanked those who got Misbah involved in the project and explained how the Captain had visited the home personally and spent the whole day there meeting the orphan girls in the process. He said that he was quite impressed that there is something of this kind in Pakistan. Niyaz added that this is one way to change things there and for enhancing the image of our country of origin. He said that we owe a great deal to the place which gave us and our parents a great deal of support. We have to respect that, he added. He also said that Saba Homes cannot change everything there but that it will at least make a difference in a few orphaned lives and in their future families. Niyaz thanked Captain Misbah ul Haq for taking an interest in and setting some time aside from his busy schedule for this effort.
Misbah ul Haq next spoke primarily in Urdu and said that he wanted to keep this informal. He thanked everyone for coming and for inviting him to be a part of this program. He explained that last year in the January or February time frame while a T20 tournament was going on he was told about an orphanage operating around the Islamabad-Rawalpindi area. He said that upon visiting the project, he was impressed by the atmosphere there - “Ghar Ka Mahaul Hai” (just like living in a regular home). They have mother-teachers here, and that the girls’ clothing, food and education is focused on just like they were in any home (and not an orphanage). He added that the environment there was such that it will produce very capable young ladies who will be net contributors to the future of their societies. He added that anyone who visits the home would be impressed by the way that it is run. He also said that after he visited, he decided to help these girls mainly because he saw hope in their eyes. He added that he was blessed, being a successful Captain of the national cricket team and also having some records to his credit, but when one has achieved his own goals to his own satisfaction (like he has) one can be even more satisfied by helping another human being in even the smallest manner. He said that this little effort of his to assist someone in need would eventually overshadow 25 years of his achievements on the cricket field.
Captain or Kaptaan Sahib is being too humble! Both he and his wife appeared to be very genuine and regular down to earth people. It was a pleasure to drive 100 miles to meet him in person and my regrets for not being able to attend the public fundraiser at Chandni Restaurant in Fremont-Newark area the following evening.
Thanks to Abid, Anwar and Mohsin along with other members of the T-House for making this event possible and for helping to raise funds so that some orphan girls could have a better future. While here Captain Misbah also said that he appreciated his fans and the support that they give the Pakistan Cricket Team whenever it plays. One can respond to this by writing that our Captain who recently made it into the Guinness Book of World records is not appreciated enough. He has brought both leadership and a touch of class to Pakistani cricket and has ably steered a team whose fortunes were once at an all-time low. He is a calming influence and a credit to the game. Thanks Captain!