Jalees Hazir The decision by the International Cricket Council to provisionally suspend three match-winners of the Pakistan team till they clear themselves of allegations of spot-fixing (of two no-balls) against them has brought into question ICCs credibility. During the same ongoing tour of England, notorious English bowler Stuart Broad intentionally injured another Pakistani match-winner, Zulqarnain Hai-der, and the ICC did not suspend him for even a single-match. Stuart was fined half his match-fee, while Zulqarnain could not continue the tour and had to return home with a broken finger. What is most disturbing, however, is the response of our-trigger happy media mob that stood silently on the sidelines as the confessed British criminal was set free with a rap on the knuckles for being good enough to say sorry. And now the same media mob has decided to lynch the accused Pakistanis even before they are proven guilty. Prime Minister Gilani was quick to say that the nation was shamed by the incident and President Zardari said that the players would be given exemplary punishment if found guilty. The Sports Minister seemed to be on a mission to further demoralise the Pakistan team. The television channels went berserk giving round-the-clock extensive one-sided coverage to the accusations. Their anchor-persons went wild with their superficial analysis and gloomy conclusions about our society that they seemed too eager to reach on the basis of a dubious sting-operation by a scandalous British tabloid. They sent out their camera teams to ask leading questions from the public to further demoralise the touring team and the shocked nation. Nobody bothered to check the credentials of the man who had made the accusations. Nobody tried to look at the scandal from the perspective of the Pakistan cricket team. Even our national cricket hero Imran Khan failed on that count and had little more to offer than scepticism about the Pakistani players. For someone who is aspiring to lead the nation, one had hoped he would be able to look at the larger picture. He did talk about the difficulty of ascertaining whether a no-ball was deliberate or not but, like everyone else, went on to speak about the players as if the charge had been proven already. Regardless of what comes out of the ICCs probe, which is already tainted because of the ICCs biased treatment of the accused Pakistani cricketers, the conduct of our leaders in government, sports and media and not that of three young cricketers accused of accepting money for bowling two no-balls, is what is shameful. The ICCs decision of suspension came after the three accused players had themselves opted out of the remaining tour because of the mental torture they had been subjected to. The decision came across as an instrument to torture them further, most probably for performing so well. The players were later questioned by police and released without being charged and with no conditions. Those accused include the 18-year-old bowler Muhammad Aamer who is being acclaimed as the most brilliant new entrant to the sport of cricket, Pakistans young, polite and articulate captain Salman Butt and another star-bowler Muhammad Asif. The ICCs Anti-Corruption Unit will grill the players further and might take a long time deciding about their future. In the meanwhile, they stand suspended by the ICC and maligned by the Pakistani media. Although the police questioning did not find any evidence to charge them or even to put any conditions on their movement, the issue here is not whether the accused cricketers are guilty or not, but the low esteem that our leaders have for the nation they lead, always ready to believe the worst about their people. The insincerity of the political leadership is routinely exposed by the media. But perhaps it is time we take a look in the mirror and ask ourselves whether we are performing our duties with responsibility. As opinion leaders, does it behove us to act like a mob and spread unproven allegations, relishing our power to demolish public figures? Are we any better than the policemen who formed a ring around the culprits in Sialkot, facilitating the clubbing to death of two teenagers? Does it matter whether the teenagers had committed any crime or not? The bigger crime is for the watchdogs to facilitate the madness of lynching. The myopic mob behaviour of our media is matched by the misplaced moral arrogance of ICC lording over the scam that international cricket has become. Money is the name of the game. Players are free to be sold to companies whose logos they wear on their sleeves, and shoulder and chests and backs, as national emblems. The prize moneys and fines, the sponsorships and the media rights all feed right back into a system that recognises money as the all-important goal. Players are free to sell shampoos, cola drinks, banks, cell phones and everything under the sun on a fee. A multi-billion dollar betting industry thrives around cricket. In an environment that revolves around money, can we expect cricketers, some of them still in their teens, to display the clarity of vision and impeccable integrity to steer clear of the money factor and play for national honour alone? The idea is not to justify spot-fixing and match-fixing but to put things in perspective. Before punishing the young Pakistani cricketers with a provisional suspension because they have been accused of deliberately bowling two no-balls, perhaps it would have been more in place for the ICC to take stock of the materialistic mess they preside over in the name of cricket. Before congratulating the British tabloid for breaking the story and pontificating about not tolerating any corruption in cricket and spot-fixing not being rampant in cricket, perhaps the ICC officials should grill the reporter and his accomplice who now proudly claim to have engineered the whole thing. The man who claims to have induced the young players into bowling no-balls is being investigated for money-laundering and has a suspect business career. And if what he says is true, a proper investigation could lead to the iceberg of fixer and bookie networks that are probably floating under the targeted tip. That, among other things, would surely help in setting international cricket on the right path. Targeting in isolation a teenager and two other young players from Pakistan who, even if guilty, were obviously induced to ball two no-balls would only go to expose the ICC as a protector, if not an integral part, of the fixing scam. The writer is a freelance columnist.