One of the few binding forces in a culture of national disagreement is the power of sport. Nelson Mandela recognised it when, in the racially split South Africa, he publicly endorsed the Rugby squad, which was then all-white. The movie, Invictus, depicts that. In Pakistan, too, sport has had a similar impact of bringing the nation together on a single common platform. In a polarised environment, cricket, in particular, overcomes class, ethnic, ideological, and parochial barriers, and becomes a source of unifying joy. But it seems that the pervasive tolerance for fraud has infected the cricketing arena. Ever since Pakistan won the World Cup in 1992, greed has quadrupled, and so have scandals associated with it. So when Pakistan lost to Bangladesh (under dubious circumstances) during the 1999 World Cup, the matter should have been taken up as a wake-up call pointing to a larger underlying malaise. However, there were only half-hearted attempts to diagnose the problem. The cultural leniency associated with lapses of integrity did not help. The team never fully recovered from that sordid affair and a not-so-proud legacy followed. Since then, the motivation and momentum which drives a winning campaign were missing, before the World Cups of 2003 and 2007 even began, because of the issues connected with preparation, management, and team selection. Theres an old adage: If you fail to prepare, then be prepared to fail. If the cancer of match fixing had been excised there and then, the beast would not have metastasised into a malignant monster. The national embarrassment caused by the banning of three top players on the eve of the 2011 World Cup is an indictment of the cricketing czars failure to set their own house in order. Not surprisingly, players are emulating their rulers in doing whatever they can get away with. Nearly 100 years ago, in the United States, the Chicago White Sox baseball team threw away the 1919 World Series, in a conspiracy with gambling syndicates to fix the games. The scandal was dramatised in the 1988 film, Eight Men Out. All of the players implicated were banned for life, including the legendary Shoeless Joe Jackson, and they never played professional baseball again. More recently, in Japan, Sumo wrestlers are being investigated for bout fixing. As the investigation continues, a Grand Tournament of Sumo wrestling, scheduled for March, has been cancelled, reportedly, the first such cancellation in 65 years. Whats to be done then? A certain ruthlessness is required to seize the bulls by the horns. Desperate maladies require desperate measures. At home there are splendid examples. For starters, the national cricket team may be taken on a tour to the great Fazal Mahmoods modest dwelling in Garhi Shahu at Lahore and observe how Pakistans earliest icon had an austere lifestyle - as a matter of choice - when he could have availed all the riches and luxuries. Recent history demonstrates how a climate of deceit and the pursuit of pelf can devour discipline, deplete faith, and sap the uniting force of comradeship. Pakistan can reclaim its old glory if it can revive the founding values of the nation. But the bigger question is: Can cleansing in cricket or in any other area be meaningful under a polity where integrity is a non-issue and greed is an infectious virus? The writer is a barrister and a senior political analyst.