A new corporate mini-documentary featuring our new superstar Naseem Hameed is all over our television screen these days. It shows a girl sprinting at school races as her parents cheer her on. Cut to the South Asian Games and that girl now a woman, still a sprinter, who wins the 100-metre event gold medal for Pakistan. What a triumph! What a blow for feminism in Pakistan â€“ the fastest woman is South Asia is a Pakistani. Now a household name in the country, she is adored by the media and has become a symbol of hope and courage. The only problem isâ€¦she is not the only one.
Another Pakistani girl won a gold medal at the same South Asian Games this year. Someone we are not really familiar with, perhaps because karate is not as glamorous as sprinting and hence didnâ€™t make the headlines in the same manner. This girl has been fighting since she was a four-year-old, against our societal dogmas and stereotypes. She credits herÂ Ammi for the standing by her, as she climbed her way up and reached the pinnacle. She speaks reverently of her teachers and thinks that she faces the same issues any girl her age does. Except when she steps onto the mat and sees her opponent, she forgets all about it and her focus is only on winning.
This karate kid is Sara Nasir â€“ theÂ dupatta-clad girl standing next to Naseem Hameed as our President hands them both awards for their outstanding performance. So why is it that we know of one and not the other?
Indeed, we cannot take anything away from Hameed. She is a true icon.
But why is it that we idolise one person so much that it overshadows someone else who has performed equally well? Our sports history is fully of similar stories, remember Imran Khan and Javed Miandad? Perhaps personality has something to do with it. Or maybe it is because Sarah Nasir comes across as a regular college-going girl: Unassuming and simple.
Documentary or no documentary we should raise them both up as Â shining examples for our whole nation.
Published on the Dawn Blog at 14/7/2010