When the Pakistan cricket team came back after humiliating itself and embarrassing the nation by losing matches 9-0 in all three formats of the game in Australia, the cricket hierarchy carried on with business as usual. The captain of the team explained before the public that he had done well and wished to continue on as captain. It seems that somewhere along the road on the 62-year journey, those at the helm have managed the remarkable feat of becoming shame-proof. It wasnt always like this. After the Pakistan cricket team lost in India 2-0 in 1979-80, the chairman of the cricket board General K M Azhar resigned forthwith. The great Fazal Mahmood lost his captaincy, despite leading Pakistan to an undefeated tour of India in 1960-61, just because of tour manager Dr Jehangir Khans negative report. During the inaugural Test series in 1952, when Pakistan beat the All India team in the Lucknow Test, a newspaper headline in Delhi proclaimed that a bunch of Islamia College boys from Lahore have trounced India. Unlike todays over-pampered stars, the players of the new nation had no money and no infrastructure. But they had fighting spirit. In hockey, too, careers were wrecked when the team came up 'number 2. The country which gave the world the concept of a hockey world cup now struggles to qualify to even play in the world cup. A comfortable addiction to failure and substandard performance has set in. Public outrage and moral indignation once were game-changers. Not any more. The set up now rewards failure. The problem in sports is a micro-reflection of deeper ills in the state and the society. There is a lack of pride and passion and evasion of responsibility. When those puffed-up by colossal ill-gotten gains become helmsmen of the ship of the state, the process which allows it to happen needs a second look. It no longer is a cause for indigestion to witness Cabinet ministers flaunting false degrees and proven plagiarists becoming ambassadors. The mantra is repeated that the 'system has to be saved. Whose system? And who stands to benefit from it? It is a system where presence is not based on performance and with no self-cleansing mechanism. Not surprisingly in this milieu, political parties have become virtual vehicles for driving family ambitions. This was not always so. Not a single member of the Quaids family encashed from the creation of Pakistan. The people who fought to make Pakistan were not noted for their deep pockets, but for probity, passion, and pride. Charlatans peddling conspiracy theories and wallowing in defeatist victimhood have not helped. The habit of over-reliance on hearsay and rumours undermines the fostering of a fact-checking and merit-based culture. While the country implodes, non-stop chatter on the airwaves explodes. The solution-oriented task of critical self-assessment is thus skipped. During September 2005, the Hurricane Katrina practically drowned the city of New Orleans in water, and there was a despairing mood that it would never recover. But the victory of the hometown American football team, the New Orleans Saints, on February 7 in the Super Bowl sent a fresh wave of optimism to residents of New Orleans. It is never too late to rejuvenate. Just look across the frontier at the tonic given to the battered Afghan people by the splendid example set by Afghanistans cricket team including its victory over the United States - the most developed nation being bettered in the field by the least developed nation. It is a stunning redemption of the resilience of the human spirit not to succumb to a defeatist mindset and to not be over-awed by uphill odds. Meanwhile, back at home, the ruling quarters - engrossed in clinging on to their perks and privileges - remain oblivious to the decline and seem incapable to lift morale and rally the nation. There may be a genuine shortage of bulletproof cars; but there is no shortage among those in high society whose body-armour is shame-proof. The writer is a barrister and a senior political analyst.