During the bleak year of 1971 - which ended with Pakistan being split into half - there were still some silver linings, in that Pakistan won the inaugural Hockey World Cup at Barcelona and, during that summer in England, the Pakistan cricket team nearly beat the Ashes-winning England squad. Forty years later, that has not been the case. In a catastrophe-hit Pakistan, the joy-starved public has been deprived of its few remaining morale-boosting morsels. It seems that the rot at the top undermines the effort to cleanse other fields of activity. There is a concept in law called fruit of the poisonous tree. If the source is tainted, then anything stemming from it would be equally so. There is a tendency to look at the branches but not at the tree. Cricket cannot stand apart from society and polity. It cannot be compartmentalised or isolated. When in public life, integrity becomes a non-issue, greed becomes respectable and acceptable. The justification inevitably develops: when everybody is doing it, why shouldnt we? It is one of the side-effects of a culture of impunity. It occurs when those responsible are not held accountable. Why the nation is being pushed to the brink is not being weighed fully. Pelf has penetrated and permeated every sphere. To go into denial on that would be suicidal. To redress it, one needs first to accept it is there. But to accept it doesnt mean to tolerate it. Amidst all talk of tolerance, this is one area where a case should be made for intolerance. Nearly 50 years ago, the James Bond movie franchise took off because its Agent 007 had, among other things, a licence to kill. Today, the lotus-eating ruling elites are bringing their country down by their self-conferred licence to steal. This is one of the core factors fanning the fires of militancy. Nearly 700 years before, Ibn Khaldoun, the founder of modern sociology, had discovered that people emulate their superiors and take their cues from those at the top. Accordingly, todays sports stars over paid, over pampered, and over spoiled - are tempted to trek on disreputable paths charted by kleptocrats. In doing so, they betray the mighty legacy of Pakistan sport, and the emotional investment of the public. Lacking resources, finances, and basic infrastructure, Pakistan won world champion honours in squash, hockey, snooker, and cricket. Kardar, Fazal, Imtiaz, and Hanif were legends during the early days of Pakistan cricket. Let us not forget the admirable Justice A.R. Cornelius, who was one of the visionary architects of Pakistan cricket. Alimuddin - a gentleman to the core - a member of the immortal Pakistani side which triumphed at the Oval in 1954, lives quietly in London and has even named his nephew Pakistan. Saeed Ahmed, who hit two unforgettable Test hundreds at Bombay (now Mumbai) and Madras during the 1960-61 tour, was hailed by the great Indian sports journalist, S.K. Gurunathan, through his article in the magazine, Sport and Pastime, as the best batsman of Asia. Then, too, in pre-Partition days, the Great Gama from Lahore was a world champion wrestler. Sports is but a small reflection of what has befallen the nation, where greed supersedes moral creed. The former England cricket captain, Nasser Hussain, characterised the touring Pakistan team as in shambles. He could have applied this term equally to the prevailing set-up. It is untenable. But, perhaps, amidst grey clouds, there is a ray of hope. History shows that what is untenable is often not sustainable. The writer is a barrister and a senior political analyst.