India vs Pakistan: Replace diplomacy with Cricket

Published: July 18, 2012
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If two countries with one of the most intense rivalries in international sport refuse to face each other, world cricket will definitely be poorer off. DESIGN: ERUM SHAIKH

After four years of constant refusal to resume bilateral cricketing relations and giving Pakistan cricket the cold shoulder, the ice has finally started to melt. The Board of Control for Cricket  in India (BCCI) finally decided to restart the most intense cricket rivalry in the world, having invited Pakistan to play three One-Day Internationals and two Twenty20s in India later this year.

With bilateral cricket ties with India on hold ever since the 2008 Mumbai attacks, followed by the attack on the Sri Lankan team in Lahore in 2009, not to mention the 2010 spot-fixing saga and Pakistan being stripped off hosting rights of the 2011 World Cup, it was quite evident that the country’s cricket had been on a downward spiral for the past few years.

In recent times, however, the national team’s creditable performance has given the fans something to cheer about. However, the off-the-field realities are the ones that have continued to ensure that Pakistan cricket remains in the doldrums on many fronts, including the painful realisation that it would be many years before we are able to host international cricket and that the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) will continue to face serious financial problems in the foreseeable future.

In such a scenario, a series with India, even if it is not on home soil, will hopefully ensure that the severity of the financial crunch that the PCB currently faces will be alleviated to an extent.

However, beyond the obvious financial benefits that both the boards will derive from this series, we need to look at Pakistan-India cricket ties on a much broader canvas. If anyone doubts the importance of cricket ties between the arch-rivals to the health of world cricket, one only has to recall the high voltage, riveting contest that unfolded when Pakistan met India in the semi-final of the last World Cup, en route to becoming the world champions.

Top-flight cricket is played amongst a handful of nations and if two of those countries — which incidentally also provide one of the most intense rivalries in international sport — refuse to face each other, world cricket will definitely be poorer off.

More often than not, cricket relations between the two countries have been held hostage to the political climate prevalent between the neighbours. It is disappointing that certain quarters in India have not welcomed this thaw in cricket ties. One wonders why those who oppose this resumption have only spoken out against this aspect of improved relations between the two countries. Trade ties between the neighbours are improving, Pakistan’s president recently visited India, as did the country’s foreign secretary.

Why this vocal outburst only against the resumption of cricket ties?

To all those who believe that cricket should continue to be held hostage to the wider issues between the two countries, it would be a good reminder that just five years after a bloody partition, which had engendered harrowing violence, bloodshed and extreme intolerance in its wake, 16 men from Pakistan went to play cricket in India.

Pakistan’s inaugural 1952 tour of India was held amidst a much more hostile climate that is prevalent right now. But it still ended up giving hope that cordial relations between the people of the two countries were possible and that maintaining sporting ties was one way of generating good will on both sides of the Wagah border.

Read more by Amna Lone here.

Amna Lone

Amna Lone

A sub-editor for The Express Tribune’s editorial pages.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Sinclair

    Two points.

    BCCI wants to keep the revenue of this series to itself. If PCB insists on revenue sharing, this series may never get off the paper to begin with. There is also the matter of providing security to Pakistan team, where the Home ministry comes into the picture. If they say its difficult, BCCI can do nothing.
    India today is not the India of 1947. Neither is Pakistan. Whatever happens about this cricket series, I only see the gulf widening between our countries in the future if Pakistan insists on a treatment based on equality. Its just not going to happen.
    Recommend

  • anil

    To all the pakistani readers
    india and indians do not want this series to happen. trust me on this, someone from BCCI will have to loose his job if this series happen.We indians just hate you guys and that’s why i come to this forum.Recommend

  • BlackJack

    Pls do not be suprised by the lack of enthusiasm in many quarters when this news of ‘restarting cricket’s most intense rivalry’ was announced – most of the irritation is directed at BCCI and the Indian govt. My 2 cents:
    1. Given that India took the stance of putting a halt to bilateral cricketing ties in the wake of the Mumbai attacks, resumption should have been after there were clear signs of steps being taken to apprehend the perpetrators and deliver justice; instead we see a court which jumps with alacrity at opportunities to sack a sitting PM or return Lal Masjid land is sitting on the case citing lack of evidence, while the govt of Pakistan showing absolutely no inclination to even control the hate-mongering key accused from inciting further violence.
    2. Bilateral ties were put on hold – there was never any talk of ‘refusing to face eachother’ as the article indicates.
    3. Trade was not put on hold and has progressed only because of confidence-building measures from Pakistan which have been immediately welcomed and reciprocated by India. Let’s not mix up issues.
    4. Nobody has anything against the Pak cricket team, but wounds are still fairly raw in India, kept fresh by the refusal of Pakistan to take responsibility and clean up this mess. You guys need to show more understanding.Recommend

  • Khizr

    @anil:
    Do you really think that we pakistanis like you guys??i live in sharjah and have many bengali pakistani hindu and afghani friends who support pakistan over india so please do not get carried away with your country!!do you remember operation blue star?was that not terrorism?if you do not want to play cricket with us its fine!!Recommend

  • Sinclair

    @anil

    Hate is too harsh a word. It should not be used lightly. I dont hate Pakistan, but I have no illusions of ‘Aman ki Aasha’. The reason I read these newspapers is that Pakistan is an adversary of my country, and I want to know everything about it.Recommend

  • Mountie

    Aman ki asha and cricket diplomacy is all BS. It sucks we have to be neighbour of countries like India and Afghanistan where there are more illiterate people than the whole population of Pakistan. We cant choose our neighbours but we can choose our friends. Recommend

  • BlackJack

    @anil:
    I agree with Sinclair. I understand where you are coming from, but you do not speak for all Indians. I don’t hate Pakistanis, although I don’t think that we are one people and that the fates have conspired to bring us to this pretty pass. Recommend

  • mr. righty rightist

    Keep waiting for “boycott the series” “no to the series”, facebook and twitter campaigns.

    There will be a countrywide campaign to prevent this series from happening and if it happens, to boycott it.

    BCCI and the government will come under severe pressure both from the public and also from the opposition and possibly left also.Recommend

  • eureka

    Strategic assets have turned into liabilities.This is the simple message that Indians who oppose matches are trying to give.Pakistani public should understand that it is in their own interest to reign in the extremists.Cricket matches are the last thing to worry about.The assets are ruining the investment climate of Pakistan which needs to improve if the youth want jobs.Recommend

  • Adeel Syed

    These same people will be lining up to purchase the tickets for the matches.Recommend

  • Hasan

    @anil:
    Point taken. There is no love lost between our nations. Kindly use the democracy in your country to portray your hate! Please go to your local shiv sena, congress or bjp party person and protest! Trolling on a Pakistani forum to display your ‘hate’ is always childish and clearly displays your immature thought process.Recommend

  • @anil:
    Hey Anil
    Please refrain yourself from using this word hate.
    India/Indians do not hate Pakistan/Pakistanis.
    How can they?Why should they?
    Sindhi, sindhu, Hindu, India, Indus – are all related words referring to land and people of river indus.
    I can never hate the land of Sapta sindhu, the Land of Harappa, Mohenjodaro & Taxila..Recommend

  • Nandita.

    Any Mumbaikars here?Recommend

  • Pakistani in US

    @anil Good for you since you are going to find a lot of supporter on a similar stand across the border. Although I am not one of them because I now know (and seen) enough to rise above this petty rivalry. Thankfully there are ton of people who think like me. And I also know folks who think like you would either be sidelined or moved to fringes eventually. There is enough proof around the globe to drive this conclusion.Recommend

  • Parvez

    If the series actually happens I sincerely hope for Anil’s sake that India wins.Recommend

  • Nandita.

    People who are from Mumbai or were living there at the time will vividly remember where they were on that fateful night,the panic that gripped the city,the outrage,the tears,the frantic phone calls,the candlelight vigils near taj.I can never pass VT station or metro or xaviers without thinking of that night. Sorry,this is not related to the blog but i get senti everytime i think about the attacks. Recommend

  • G. Din

    @Pakistani in US: @anil
    “And I also know folks who think like you would either be sidelined or moved to fringes eventually. “
    What Anil has expressed is a reaction to Pakistani terror stance. His stance jives with that of the rest of the world. If other Pakistanis shape up the way you say you have, reaction around the world – and that of Anil – will also change. So, there is no possibility or need of anyone being sidelined. It is not as if loathing of terrorists is some kind of a “condition” one is stricken with permanently on ce you contract it. At the moment, even “good” Pakistanis like you are the victims twice over. Try cleaning up the stables at home and you will see the world change with you!Recommend

  • Rehman

    I can understand why an average Indian is really wary of Pakistanis. However, I still think that as much we try to distance ourselves, we cannot because in reality we have always been one.Recommend

  • Future_of_Pak

    @Nandita.:
    Stop assuming that the vast vast vast majority of Pakistanis do not stand for terrorism and want justice brought to the perpretrators of the mumbai attack. Why did your government not allow our prosecutors full access to intel when they visited? Have you ever thought about that? Why were they not allowed to meet the prisoners? Have you considered that because of the Indian position, the Pakistani govt could not act in a legally responsible way?

    And for the rest of you guys, please stop trolling our forums with your hatred. Good god guys what have we ever done that has made you hate us so much. Of course we are upset about Pakistani linked rogues who commit crimes in India. Ofcourse we are against them. Do you really think there hasnt been a vice versa set of incidents from India over the past many years? Come on guys please grow up and stop spewing so much hatred.

    I meet so many Indians who want nothing other than to mend ties with Pakistan and build a happy and prosperous South Asia. Why are you guys so hell bent on ruining it and trolling non stop on our forums? Recommend

  • Future_of_Pak

    @Sinclair:
    you are completely wrong if you think there will be no profit sharing between the PCB and the BCCI, I don’t know what naive, idealistic, egotistical world view you surround your mind inRecommend

  • Future_of_Pak

    @anil:
    hahahhahahahaha Indians do not want this series to happen (according to your strange analysis) probably because they know they’re going to get whipped!! On an international stage!! :)Recommend

  • antony

    @anil, I know I would be thinking like you when you hear the sequence — bomb blasts and mumbai terror and latest abu jindal links to ISI presented in Indian news and next day BCCI announces Cricketing ties that will surely stoke the anger which you are portraying as hate.. In fact if you read pakistani news paper just to understand your adversary why they are sending terrorists you will find some foolish justification and hell lot of sane pakistanis condemning it ..So there lies my point .There are equal number of good humane pakistanis who just go about their daily lives improving their lives and patriotic and who does not hate India and they do condemn terrorists of Mumbai .. Trust me Pakistani cricketers does belong to the category of sports person who are patriotic and they are not gun trotting hate filled people with sinister plans to bomb India..So lets welcome them and see pure cricketing talent and skill exhibition and most of all who keeps his nerve till the end.Recommend

  • Babloo

    I do not oppose Pakistanis, in the capacity of private citizens coming to India and participating in events here. Thats people to people transaction. However, I do oppose India hosting anyone officially representing Pakistan for the simple reason that the pak state , in my opinion, has been directly complicit in perpetuating terrorist attacks in India.
    So until Pakistan demonstratably changes its policies , and shows its seriouness, by prosecuting and punishing the 26/11 masterminds in its custody, Mr Lakhvi, Zarar Shah , India should not entertain any team, cricket, hockey, whatsoever from PakistanRecommend

  • antanu g

    I dissociate myself from Nandita’s comments. Nothing unusual or emotional about the day, Same corruption by shiv sena.Recommend

  • vickram

    Most of the Pakistanis are overwhelmingly in favor of this series with India.

    But, most of the Indians are vehemently against this series. They don’t want to play against Pakistan in India.

    What does this tell you ?Recommend

  • M. Zubair

    @Nandita.:
    Dear Nandita, welcome to Pakistan over a virtual trip through ET. I can well understand where you are refering when you talk about Mumbai and The Taj. Please do consider and remember Baluchistan, Kashmir, invasion of Siachin, cross border infiltration by Indian Army in 1965 atc etc…Love begets love and so do hatredRecommend

  • antony

    @futureofpak, Please remember the mercy BCCI has shown to Pakistani cricketers and dont boast of your team’s cricketing skills just yet .To quote a fellow pakistani who said in america “I have never said this before in a conference ..I will knock out “x” and take the title ” and guess what he received a tight left hook at his chin and fell to the ground and lost . So no bravado please !!!Recommend

  • Bharat

    Friendship between India Pakistan is not possible

    There are too many issues that will never be sorted

    Lets continue just as it isRecommend

  • Nandita.

    @Future of pak – I don’t have an issue with the pakistani public and I’m sure there are people in Pakistan who don’t stand for terrorism and i’m sure there are pakistanis who condemn the attacks. I have pakistani friends who i absolutely adore and i love visting ET and interacting with pakistanis here.

    But I do have an issue with ur govt,the pak army and ofcourse the ISI. You mentioned that because of the indian position,pak govt could not act in a legal responsible manner? That made me laugh since sherry rehman and rehman malik have both acknowledged the fact that kasab is a pakistani and that the attack was planned in pakistan.The indian govt has shared the evidence(including dna evidence),photographs etc with the pak govt and yet pakistan hasn’t taken any action against the perpetrators. Justice has not been served has it?

    I never respond to such comments or get into indo pak arguments here because frankly,i come here to read and have fun and so this is my last comment on this blog.Recommend

  • Raman

    @M.Zubair
    babumoshai, hum to rangmanch ki kathputliyan hain jiski dor us upar wale ke haathon main hai kab, kaun kahan uthega ye koi nahin janta…. So, cool down and take it easy…Recommend

  • Gratgy

    @M. Zubair
    Please do consider and remember Baluchistan, Kashmir, invasion of Siachin, cross border infiltration by Indian Army in 1965 atc etc…Love begets love and so do hatred

    Reading from your textbook eh??
    REALITY CHECK

    Baluchistan- No indian connection and Pakistan has not even offered any proof other than hot air.

    Kashmir- was an independant country before Pakistan used tribal proxies to invade it which pushed the Maharaja to acede to India in return for protection. Thus Pakistan is the sole reason that Kashmir is not independant today

    Siachen was and is Indian territory but then Pakistan cannot differentiate North from North east. Hence Pakistan is the agressor here

    1965 was was started by Pak army- read Wikipedia – “On August 5, 1965 between 26,000 and 33,000 Pakistani soldiers crossed the Line of Control dressed as Kashmiri locals headed for various areas within Kashmir. Indian forces, tipped off by the local populace, crossed the cease fire line on August 15”Recommend

  • Nandita.

    @M. Zubair:

    I hadn’t replied to ur comment because it was so ridiculous.esp the accusation of cross border infiltration by indian soldiers in 1965.
    You confused 1965 with 1999 and pak soldiers with indian soldiers because it was pakistani soldiers who crossed over into india in 1999. And even then,during the war that ensued Indians did not cross the LOC.We won that war without stepping onto the other side.Pakistan refused to accept that it was infact the army that had crossed over;bodies of pak soldiers were not accepted by ur army and had to be buried in India.Unlike pakistan,Indian army buried the pak soldiers with full islamic rights.And What did pakistan do?they multilated the bodies of our men and sent them back.I hope that sets facts straight!
    As far as balochistan is concerned,nothing i say will make a difference as conspiracy theories have taken over.
    I agree with what Gratgy has to say about Siachen.Recommend

  • Tony Singh

    @Hasan:
    Love it or hate it, net is here to stay and you better get used to Indians on this site. You don’t like it, then leave.If ET has problem with a comment they will moderate it.
    @Rehman:
    Our hardware (Genetic make up) may be one but our software (education) and OS are poles apart. For most of us religion is not a priority, Economics is. Most of us Indians treat religion as a private matter.
    @M. Zubair:
    We would first like justice to be delivered to the victims of Mumbai carnage. That is the reason why cricketing ties were severed. Would be disappointed with BCCI if the tour goes ahead. Congress is not going to have my vote for sure. Recommend

  • Gratgy

    @Future of pak

    Stop assuming that the vast vast vast majority of Pakistanis do not stand for terrorism and want justice brought to the perpretrators of the mumbai attack.

    Why should we not assume? Why does the “vast vast majority” not protest when their country is used as a platform to attack other countries. Why should we not assume when the country starts frothing when Gautam Gambhir dedicates a victory to the victims of the mumbai attack?

    hahahhahahahaha Indians do not want this series to happen (according to your strange analysis) probably because they know they’re going to get whipped!!

    Lol! Getting whipped is definitely better than getting shot, I am sure the Sri Lankans will agreeRecommend

  • Cynical

    @Nandita

    Thanks for a rational and balanced view put in a civilized manner.Recommend

  • Ashvinn

    @anil:
    This the handy work of Sonia Gandhi’set MMS, next election kick him out of the officeRecommend

  • M. Zubair

    @Gratgy and @Nadita:

    Baluchistan:

    Evidence against Brahmdagh Bugti, has already been provided to you. If you think that evidence is not credible or enough, then we think the evidence against Pakistan involvement in Mumbai attack were insufficient.

    Kashmir:

    “Although tribal fighters from Pakistan had entered Jammu and Kashmir, there was no iron-clad legal evidence to unequivocally prove that Pakistan was officially involved” (says your favorite Wikipedia).
    The people of Kashmir, were revolting against the oppressive Maharaja since years, but that cunning devil, preferred his personal choice over the majority and in connivance with Hindu leadership, annexed the Kashmiris to the self-styled biggest democracy in the world i.e. India. Kashmiris, do not want to live with India and that you know well but you will never accept here. Forced marriages never work!
    You have yet to implement the UN resolution to whom you took the matter yourself and then backed out.

    “Siachin:”

    The First invasion of Siachin was done by the Indian Army and not Pakistan Army…yet we are the aggressors?????? You pushed us into this and not us dragging you.

    1965 war:

    “India crossed the International Border on the Western front on September 6, marking an official beginning of the war”. (Again, as per your favorite Wikipedia)
    Please understand that there is a difference between “Line of Control (LoC)” and “Internationally recognized Border”. Kashmir between Pakistan and India is separated by LoC, which is a temporary cease fire line and not permanent one. Since you are not planning to hold plebiscite in Kashmir, we will cross that line as civilians of Pakistan, Kashmir and Pak Army. Whoever cross that line first, is our hero! You will have to liberate Kashmir one day. IHSHALLAH.
    Recommend

  • Jamil

    We all know that the bilateral ties between the two countries are not as good as pretended. but as a nation we should show some respect to other nations regardless of the fact that we like each other or not, because it shows your moral and ethical values. Sportsman spirit should be there rather than hatred for any nation be it India or Pakistan. Cricket is something for which every kid is crazy Recommend

  • Gratgy

    @Zubair

    Evidence against Brahmdagh Bugti, has already been provided to you.
    Please give me a credible link or new article on this. Please dont give a youtube link

    Although tribal fighters from Pakistan had entered Jammu and Kashmir, there was no iron-clad legal evidence to unequivocally prove that Pakistan was officially involved

    You mean non state actors again??

    You have yet to implement the UN resolution to whom you took the matter yourself and then backed out.
    Pakistan was supposed to withdraw its troops from Kashmir as a prerequisite. Which it didnt.

    The First invasion of Siachin was done by the Indian Army and not Pakistan Army…yet we are the aggressors?????? You pushed us into this and not us dragging you

    How can we invade something that is already ours?? unless north means northeast to you

    “India crossed the International Border on the Western front on September 6, marking an official beginning of the war”. (Again, as per your favorite Wikipedia)

    On August 5, 1965 between 26,000 and 33,000 Pakistani soldiers crossed the Line of Control dressed as Kashmiri locals- What were they doing there, having a picnic and why were they dressed as locals and not Pakistani army?? Recommend

  • Nandita.

    @ zubair – There was no clear indication of who controlled the siachen glacier.The area had not clearly demarcated.In the 70s when Pakistan started granting permission to trekking expeditions to go up till the glacier as if it were pakistan territory,india had no choice but to take control.Pakistan had apparently ordered some supplies or gear from a shop located abroad ( US OR UK i think ) because it wished to capture siachen.India was tipped off and we were successful in getting there a few days before pakistan.So,it was Pakistan who forced india to take the stand that it did.
    Bugti, as in the Baloch leader right? What Evidence has pakistan provided to India ? can u please elaborate?Recommend

  • Sane

    Do whatever. There will be no truce between India and Pakistan. Lets see how long Pakistan can bear irrationality of India.Recommend

  • M. Zubair

    @Nandita. and @ Gratgy:

    For Balochistan and linkages with terrorist Talibans in Pakistan and Afghanistan, best place for evidence is your Ministry of Foreign Affairs to whome all relevent evidences were provided. One such occasion was Sharam Al Shaikh, when our PM handed over the documents to your PM.
    Further, your best friends i.e. Americans have admitted “Indian Insticnt” in support to terrorist Taliban and Brahamdagh of Balochistan and this is confirmed by wikileaks.

    @Nandita: So Pakistan was sending civilian mounteneers and you sent Army, hmmm. If we wanted, we could have occupied it with first expedition, without letting you know. So you yourself are admitting that you were wrong. You guys always think negative about Pakistan and will continue with this mentality.

    @ Gratgy: Im still sure there are many mujahideen, who still want to cross the line of control to enter Kashmir and relieve it from evel cluthes of India. We will contine this till you hold plebisite or set free kashmiris. Recommend

  • Nandita.

    @M. Zubair:
    Pakistan did not send its own trekkers to siachen.Pakistan gave permission to expeditions from the west as though siachen were its own territory and in its control.I think Siachen was then even included in Maps where it was shown as a part of Pakistan.I mentioned the Gear that pakistan purchased for capturing siachen.That’s why India was forced to capture siachen a few days before pakistan reached there.Before the 70s Siachen was not controlled by either country.
    And no,i dont hate the pakistani public and i never will. kindly read my first comment on this blog.Recommend

  • Nandita.

    @zubair – pls support ur statement with relevant,credible links.Recommend

  • antony

    @Zubair, “many mujahideen who still want to cross the line of control to enter Kashmir and relieve it from evel cluthes of India. We will contine this till you hold plebisite ” So you are saying are also mujahideen who wishes jihad … Its jihadis call to cross LOC and its our duty to send you to Allah which every jihadis wish!. Recommend

  • Home

    There should be no cricket between Pakistan and india. Indians can never be friends of Pakistanis. Recommend

  • M. Zubair

    @Nandita.: I have already supported my comments with credible references. If they are uncredible to you, I cant help you further. Moreover, media articles are not valid in proper legal setup as they form hearsay and weak evidence for judgements. Thats why I say our PM has given the documents against Brahamdagh to your PM in Sharam Al Shaikh meeting.

    @antony: We least fear death and that you know. Before we are dead, we will take some of your soldiers with us. Indian army fears mujahideen AND THE PROOF IS SUICIDES BY YOUR ARMY IN KASHMIRRecommend

  • Gratgy

    @Zubair
    I have already supported my comments with credible references.

    Where??? unless you consider your comments as credible references

    Moreover, media articles are not valid in proper legal setup as they form hearsay and weak evidence for judgements. Thats why I say our PM has given the documents against Brahamdagh to your PM in Sharam Al Shaikh meeting.

    When YOU say then it must be right LOL!Recommend

  • Gratgy

    @Zubair
    Before we are dead, we will take some of your soldiers with us

    But then you prefer SURRENDERING, 90,000 of you, that isRecommend

  • Ryan

    I’ve gone through a lot of comments and nobody is ready to look forward. People are talking about what happened in the past, how one is better than another? How does it help us Indians and Pakistanis to solve our problems? To bring peace between the two countries, I say wipe out Indian politicians (and I mean each and every person who are related with politics) and the Pakistani military. All the problems are created by these two entities. As long as they are in power, there will be no peace in this region.Recommend

  • KD (Mumbai)

    @Rehman:
    Are you losing your mind? We have schools in India.Recommend