Pakistan is a nation plagued with all kinds of social illnesses: dowry, rape, child marriages, domestic abuse; you name it. As of this day, Sarfaraz Ahmed, the captain of Pakistan’s cricket team, has added racism and lack of consideration and manners in this ever-growing list. On Tuesday during the second ODI, Sarafaz was heard making racist comments towards the South African batsman Andile Phehlukwayo. The stump mic picked up on our very own captain saying, ‘Hey black [man], where is your mother sitting today? What have you asked her to pray for you?’ (Abay kalay, teri ami aj kahan bethi hain? Kya parhwa kar aya hai tu?)

This really puts us in a position where we, as Pakistanis, are forced to ponder upon how abysmal this act really is. The world already sees us through the eyes of the media that has, over the past few years, stopped at nothing to portray us as a highly backward country with terrorists occupying every square foot of the land. Traveling has already become a hurdle no less tall than a building, with visas hard to receive and a weak currency making it impossible to even afford a trip. Every single day is spent in fighting this negative image, to the extent that PIA has to hire a foreigner to come show the world what a great country Pakistan is. But how can we claim the title of being great when we have the representatives of Pakistan, Sarfaraz in this case, doing everything possible to override our efforts?

Calling someone ‘black’ on the field because they seem to be doing brilliantly despite taking risky shots is the lowest of the lows. Cricket is a beloved sport for the country and every child in a Pakistani household grows up watching the sport, looking up to the players, and really getting inspired by them. What will these children actually learn and keep with them as they grow up when their role models are blatantly racist with no regards for what is right and what is wrong?

However, the consciousness to differentiate between right and wrong seems to be lacking in our country anyway. To my surprise, there are many who are not only exonerating Sarfaraz for his shameful act, but also encouraging his demeanor by laughing at the comments he made.

These tweets showcase the true mindset of many in our society. Just because it was said in Urdu and wasn’t understandable to the other person in no way means it’s an acceptable ‘joke’. The word ‘kala’ is considered normal in our surroundings because of the lack of consequences of being racist. It’s such a shame that people have the audacity to actually back up this horrifying act. We as a society have a lot to answer for.

But there are definitely some who realize the gravity of the situation and give us hope that we are capable of progress. Soon after the incident, former paceman Shoaib Akhter stood up against the act.

As for Sarfaraz, ICC’s Anti-Racism Code for Participants states “Engaging in any conduct (whether through the use of language, gestures or otherwise), which is likely to offend, insult, humiliate, intimidate, threaten, disparage or vilify any reasonable person in the position of a player, player support personnel, umpire, match referee, umpire support personnel or any other person (including a spectator) on the basis of their race, religion, culture, colour, descent, national or ethnic origin”. If found guilty after due process, Sarfaraz is bound to be penalized, and rightfully so.