LAHORE: Sports have a special place in a nation’s life. Nations savour the sporting achievements of teams and individuals representing them. The pride is shared by everyone irrespective of regional or linguistic affiliations. Nelson Mandela remarked regarding sport: “It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does.” Pakistan has seen many sporting glories. The country has won world titles in hockey and squash more than any other nation in the world. In the year 1995, Pakistan was the world champion in hockey, squash and cricket. Snooker’s world amateur champion was also a Pakistani. No doubt, great accomplishments for a developing country. Hence, the importance of compiling the sports’ history of a country cannot be overstated. There have been very few rather rare attempts to put together Pakistan’s successes as well as failures in sports. Veteran sports journalist Muhammad Ali has come out with a gem. His recently published book ‘Pakistan Sports and Heroes’ is multifaceted. The book starts with the chapter, ‘The plight of Pakistan sports at 75’, which first gives a summary of the country’s major sports achievements before dwelling on the present state epitomized by Pakistan’s continuous no medal show at the Olympics. The main causes for the decline are touched. Next, the roles and domains of the mega sports organisations, the Pakistan Olympic Association and the Pakistan Sports Board, are discussed. The contribution of services, departments such as Pakistan International Airlines, Pakistan Railways, Pakistan WAPDA, and that of banks is comprehensively given. The Pakistan Cricket Board and the Pakistan Hockey Federation are discussed separately while Pakistan hockey’s rise and decline are covered succinctly and poignantly. There are chapters: Pakistan at the Olympic Games, Asian Games, Commonwealth Games, South Asian Games, and even Youth Olympic Games, Asian Indoor Games, Beach Games, etc. Pakistan’s medal tally in each edition of all these events is also tabulated. Controversial issues have also been covered extensively, again in separate sections. Doping in world sports, match-fixing in world cricket and especially Pakistan cricket, the prolonged tussle between the Pakistan Olympic Association and the Pakistan Sports Board which ran from 2012-2015 and almost led to the country’s suspension by the International Olympic Committee. The best thing to have happened to Pakistan sports in recent years is Pakistan Super League. Its journey from inception has been told along with all the aspects of this cricket league. At least one sport is being run professionally in the country. More than half of the book is rightly dedicated to Pakistan’s sports heroes. Not only sportspersons but also profiles of the country’s great sports administrators, internationally acclaimed umpires and coaches. In cricket, from AH Kardar to Sana Mir, and umpire Aleem Dar. In hockey, legendary players from AIS Dara to Sohail Abbas, grassroots workers like Aslam Roda, and Dar Hockey Academy (a role model for all sports). In athletics, from Abdul Khaliq (fastest man of Asia in the 1950s) to Arshad Nadeem (5th at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics). Tennis star Aisamul Haq. Heroes from less glamorous sports also have their profiles including the first Pakistani woman to scale Mount Everest, unsung world-class chess players, bridge legend Zia Mahmood (the most famous and sought after in the world during his prime) –– around 140 from 20 disciplines in total. All the profiles are very informative regarding the achievements with pictures of everyone. Talking of pictures, several of them can be called historic and make one wonder how did Muhammad Ali manage to get them? “A very laborious effort, it took me five years to complete the book,” tells Muhammad Ali, who is presently working as the Editor Sports at Daily Times, a national English daily. “I spent time in several libraries, contacted sports federations, sportspersons, relatives of sportspersons not in the world now and journalists, and of course, did a lot of search.” Hardbound with excellent printing and layout, Pakistan Sports and Heroes is indeed a 392-page masterpiece. The book is a wonderful read for any sports enthusiast, should be a great inspiration for the youth to emulate the sports heroes and a wonderful gift for the sports journalists and historians: a reference book for them.