Can a Pakistan India match really help us be friends?

Published: March 26, 2011

The arch-rivals have not played each other in India since the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai.

Pakistan and India have never had smooth diplomatic ties and are obviously insecure about each other; their rivalry is so intense that it has brought them to the brink of nuclear armament.

So what can a game of cricket do for two countries that are not friends? Not much.

The Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has invited President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani to watch the Pakistan versus India showdown on March 30in Mohali, India.

The arch-rivals have not played each other in India since the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai and the outcome will surely be construed as a diplomatic victory.

The frustrations that both sides have developed towards each other ever since they separated in 1947 are often vented through cricket matches.  It’s not just a game. The untimely death of a match-predicting parrot who predicted Pakistan’s victory is just a recent example of what a Pakistan India clash means.

This match will help India generate cash by selling tickets, issue around 5,000 visas to Pakistanis and create economic activity for hotels but apart from this, I don’t think it can help diplomatic ties. I highly doubt that Mr Singh and Mr Gilani will discuss human rights violations in Kashmir on the pitch.

Security concerns for Pakistani cricketers and visiting fans remain very real ahead of the match on Wednesday. The fact that cricket fans on both sides celebrate each other’s defeat with no less happiness than they cheer their triumphs gives an impression that another Pakistan India war will take place in Mohali on the 30th.

I wonder what it was that led Shahid Afridi to fantasise about Pak-India relations improving as a result of this match.  Both countries would have to play cricket almost every day before they can sit down and tackle issues crucial to the security and survival of their people.


Waqas Rafique

An Islamabad based journalist who was a former employee of Express News. He tweets @waqasrafique (

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

  • qasim

    True.. Matches as such cannot even start a dialogue. In fact, they only help in increasing rivalry between the two Subcontinent neighbours. Recommend

  • Syed Hussein El-Edroos

    The alternate is we keep at each others throats, while hundreds of million people suffer in misery.Recommend

  • G. Din

    The differences are too deep and lie at the very foundation. No edifice of understanding can be built on such hostile territory. Pakistan has to undergo a real metamorphosis before Indians can ever trust it. That means it has to reverse its course and disown the whole past with India. ManMohan Singh cannot swing anything. He is a lightweight, barely able to stand on his own and not trusted any longer in India. How, do you think, can he steer anything through the Parliament if his own position is so untenable?Recommend

  • Prof. Tahir Husain

    Rivalry between both countries ,are based on a deep sense of mistrust rooted in time.Much of it is due to the fact that the Indians have not accepted, from their hearts the Two Nation Theory , from their hearts.One continously hears this sickening nostalgia of we were one ,and this partition is artificial, from the Indian academia,the politicos and the common man.Interestingly they fail to realize that , the partition of India was basically brought about by the short sighted ,intransigent and small hearted vision of two of their biggest leaders.NEHRU and Patel.By disowning the Cabinet Mission Plan,
    Which they had earlier.accepted, they effectively laid the foundation of partition of India.Mr Jinnah and the Muslim League , had given up their demand for Pakistan ,as espouced in the Lahore resolution of 1940.In 1946 , they had accepted the Cabinet Mission plan,which had envisioned ONE INDIA….
    These facts have recently been very well highlighted by Jaswant Singh in his bestseller, India, Independence, Partition…..,and earlier by no less an illuminary then Maulana Azad in his book , INDIA WINS FREEDOM….. All the events in history , tragic though they are a direct result of this monumental blunder by NEHRU and PATEL , who in my opinion are the two people responsible for nearly all the miseries , which the people of the subcontinent , have been facing since , india was partitioned.Until and unless Indian leadership breaks free of the mental shackles of this NEHRU PATEL legacy, no real peace can come to the subcontinent, even if you have a million cricket matches.Cricket is cricket and a cup of tea is a cup of tea, as the famous pakistani commentator on cricket, the late Omar Quraishy used to say.

    , Recommend

  • MTS Abbasi

    Prof. Tahir, You have rightly mentioned the related aspects rather facts and last but not the least comments of late cricketer. i think a game of cricket can’t provide you the solution to the political issues. Because its not the case that we dream in night and in morning its readily done accordingly. Consistency in dialogue and positive attitude towards the solution by both the parties is mandatory. otherwise its just a day dreamingRecommend

  • Arif

    Pakistan is made illegally because of few opportunist on basis of religion!

    Insallah,it will be part of Greater India before 2020 .Recommend

  • Sobia Abdul Razzaq

    This game cant tie up the two nations but more aggression would raise, because one has to lose. No political establishment even be made after the game. The game should be play on the basis of neutrality.Recommend

  • Tanzeel

    Height of optimism.Recommend

  • Gautam Arya

    “I highly doubt that Mr Singh and Mr Gilani will discuss human rights violations in Kashmir on the pitch.”

    When did pakistan earn the moral capital to talk about ” human rights”..that too with India?!?!?!?!? ….lmaoRecommend

  • Gautam Arya

    “Insallah,it will be part of Greater India before 2020.”
    Thanks but no thanks!!..India has enough trouble inside its border already…don’t really need more trouble.I actually thank those “opportunists” for doing what they did. However, I think it will be better for both India and pakistan if Pakistan becomes Indian client state rather than america’s or china’s. Recommend

  • Ven

    “I highly doubt that Mr Singh and Mr Gilani will discuss human rights violations in Kashmir on the pitch.”

    I also doubt whether they will discuss about the next terrorist plot that is coming from Pakistan aimed against India. Also about Pakistan letting Hafiz Saeed roam free and spew hatred against India, and not punish the 26/11 plotters yet.

    Don’t act like you are the only saint here.Recommend

  • irrelevant

    Nice dream my brother, but not with the sense that India “absorbs” Pakistan. That would be an irrational arrogant thinking. However I would wish the two nation becomes one more organically rather than as a result of war or suffering of people. Haven’t we learn in past 60 years, for whatever political or ideological difference we have, this hatred is killing and troubling more day to day common people who just wants to earn their livelihood, be with family and enjoy the simple happiness of life.
    @Prof Tahir Hussain
    Sir I would respectfully disagree with the picture you have put here about Nehru and Patel. Yes I would willfully like to point how Jinnah was the cause. And you definately “mis interpreted” Jaswant Sinha’s book. Please do point me the page where he said Nehru and Patel were the sinner and Jinnah was angel when it comes to partition. You are professor, so surely you more responsible in academic sense to investigate before comment. Let me remind partition was finally decided ( unwillingly) after the “Direct Action” call by Jinnah which led to an ugliest Hindu-Muslim riot which caused one of the grossest crime against humanity. SO gruesome is the fact that none of our nation wants to remember and put it down in history books. What kind of a “madman” would call for such an action ? So Pakistan was not just created it was literally “ripped” away from India. Leaving a life time scar, do you really think people will forget ? What was the basis of Pakistan creation when already Hindus and muslims were having brotherly relations under british raj. If the justification of creating of Pakistan was seriously for a “just nation” for muslims then why would a huge population of muslims decided to continue their livelihood in India. Why would Maulana Azad himself stay back ? Mind this the ratio of muslims in India were more than 100 folds to the total number of minorities living in newly created Pakistan. Pakistan wasnot created for right reasons. No matter who was at fault. Somethings about our past none of us are going to agree. But how long should we continue living in past. Let bygones be bygones and lets start anew. While this one match will not fix everything, hell its not going to fix anything. Main reason is politicans are afraid to take steps “against” national interest. We the common people are big part of national interest. We need to tone down our hatred against each other to give some space to our politician to make a “right” call. Until the common people’s mindset is changed nothing fruitful will happen by such matches,
    While I am going to enjoy the India Pakistan match with my Pakistani brothers and friends here in USA, and I know we will genuinely enjoy watching the match without having ill feelings each other, I will have this deep wish that someday everybody in India and Pakistan will have an Indian and Pakistani sitting in same room, have snacks, drinks and enjoy the match in a right sense, sense of friendship.
    Peace and love to my India and Pakistani friends.Recommend

  • Rajeev

    I hope they never become united. It would be biggest blunder India can ever make. There is no benefit, apart from inheriting terrorists/terrorism, billions in debt, a broken system and military dictators who too eager to run the country.

    I wish well for India and I hope Indians who want to live in fiction wake up to this fact. Think of some Hindu-Muslim clashes which put a strain in our country and you are talking about of a country, where minorities have reduced from 25% to barely 3% in less than 60 years; Muslims killing Muslims (Shia/Sunnia, Ahemdis, etc.). Why do you forsake such future for India.Recommend

  • zyggy

    True it might not heal the bad blood between India & Pakistan, but what have you got to lose. Think positive. The only people who want’s war were the people that does not have to carry a gun to kill a fellow man.Recommend

  • G. Din

    @Prof. Tahir Husain:
    “…All the events in history , tragic though they are a direct result of this monumental blunder by NEHRU and PATEL “
    I am not a fan of Nehru’s. But bless him and Patel for that “monumental blunder”. How can any one be so blind as not to see what a disaster you have managed to make of Pakistan? Proclaiming that Muslims of India are ONE NATION and then splitting into two and soon , more likely, into more mini-nations. So, how many nations are you, Professor? Who was wrong- you or us? We, Indians, thank our stars that you got Pakistan to tinker with and destroy otherwise we would have been pulled down by you into depths of despair where you reside today. Today’s India is resurgent, with a bright twinkle in its eyes, eager to take on the world and travel to far off galaxies precisely because we are not weighed down by the dead weight of Pakistan.
    So, although we never believed, much less accepted, the Two Nation Theory, we are thankful for its fall-out. This certainly does not mean that we ever thought that Muslims and Hindu were equal or even similar. We have our qualities and you have yours. The results are before us today. While India is being courted by every nation on earth, Pakistan is shunned by every one including your brother Muslim ones.

    “Until and unless Indian leadership breaks free of the mental shackles of this NEHRU PATEL legacy, …”
    If I were you, I wouldn’t hold my breath, Professor! Another thing, Professor. In India, who will be in the leadership, is decided by the people. And, people of India love to be in “shackles of Nehru-Patel legacy”. There is every likelihood of their leadership reflecting that, I assure you!Recommend

  • Ali

    Agree with you Waqas.

    @Arif…nice try…try coming up with your real name next time.

    And “Greater India”? Two words for you: ha ha!Recommend

  • pp_arman

    Guys, mistrust, hatred must have started first time after 1947 but same goes for peace. It will also start first time after all what is happening over last 5-6 decades. Let’s take this game as starting point and move on from here.
    Pls see article

  • Cronous

    @ Prof. Tahir

    “Much of it is due to the fact that the Indians have not accepted, from their hearts the Two Nation Theory , from their hearts.”

    I am not sure where Pakistanis get such viewpoints but frankly this is not true. After almost 65 years after partition I seriously doubt most Indians have any desire for a merger with Pakistan. Indians don’t like the Two Nation Theory because it advances the idea that Indians of various faiths (including Muslims) can live together in a secular country. Recommend

  • Harsh Srivastava

    @Prof. Tahir Husain:

    By disowning the Cabinet Mission Plan,

    It was rightfully disowned. Had it been accepted you would have seen 30 small countries in this region instead of just 3 fighting against each other.. all 30.

    Nehru was a visionary.. he could see through that british plan.And hence rejected it.Recommend

  • Imran

    First i was thinking that pakistan will win the match now i estimate that pakistan must lost this match becouse zardari will sell whole team of tiger….Recommend

  • bushra

    @waqas.It wont help at all.
    can you not guess from the comments even.
    we are two nations with deep rooted disagreements and differences.Recommend

  • akash

    @author: answer is no..
    we have not forgotten mumbai…. lets this just be one india- pak match.. nothing more or less.. whoever wins plays final.. thats all it is.. giving visas to so many pakistanis is just headache for us and our security system.. and as far situation between india pak goes.. nothing is going to change till pakistan supports and harbours terrorist against india like hafiz.. and dawood.. please dont compare terrorism in india with Pak which is always supported by pakistan..Recommend

  • Natasha S.

    ‘Friends’? Let us first learn to ‘co-exist peacefully’.Recommend

  • G. Din

    “…Guys, mistrust, hatred must have started first time after 1947…”
    No, mistrust and hatred is the legacy of bin Qasim and Babur. That abhorrence and hate for all they represented will never leave the Hindu mind, try howsoever we might. How barbarians overpowered a highly civilized nation and filled them with shock and awe, mostly, I might add, due to Hindus’ own fault – they ignored the need of raw power, something we took a lesson from and have not forgotten. I have said at another place that History leaves an imprint on those who live it. It is especially true for India. The first test came in 1857 when Hindus and Muslims fought the British together. But, as soon as it was clear to Hindus that what actually Muslims were fighting for was return of the Muslim rule, Hindus left the struggle. The Mutiny fizzled. Thereafter the schism between the two only grew. Hindus, being weak had to make a choice now. They showed a preference for the British tormentor over the Muslim tormentor. Hindus collected themselves and resolved to fight the British colonialism by themselves using the very tools the British used. They acquired modern education and Muslims, by corollary, kept on sliding back.
    What you see today is a reflection of that schism. There was no other way for Muslims but to ask for a separate nation, no matter how much Hindus like Gandhi would chant “bhai-bhai” because they felt Hindus had “failed” them in 1857. All what happened was on the cards as it too is also on the cards that Muslims will continue to slide backwards as Hindus push forward and rise to that “rendezvous with Destiny” which Nehru talked about!Recommend

  • http://India Ajay

    @Prof. Tahir Husain:

    The Cabinet Mission Plan would have resulted in India becoming like today’s Pakistan. It was based on Jinnah’s fear (or makebelieve fear) that Hindus would impose their culture and rule over Muslims, which we all know today, did not happen. Jinnah was trying to inject religion in electoral mathematics, the fruits of which we are seeing today in Pakistan, which is descending rapidly downhill. Nahru and Patel and Gandhi actually saved India from a Pakistan like disaster. Had India adopted Cabinet’s plan (& jinnah’s plan) for 90% decentralization, feudalism would not have ended and the groupin of Hindu and Muslim would have eventually lead to more differences and eventiual seperation. If Jaswant wrote this he was a fool. With that plan, India woul dhave lost more provinces that the partition caused. As Altaf Hussein righthly says, the partition had a silver lining for India- it saved India by seperating out the bad blood.Recommend

  • http://India Ajay

    @Gautam Arya:

    I agree with you and Pakistanis are msitaken if they think that Indians want India and Pakistan to become one. No, we wnat the countries to remain as two otherwise India would have to spend a fortune to rehabilitate hundreds of millions whose mindsets are completely alien to Indian mindset and can never change.Recommend

  • ani

    Answer is: No.
    Possible when Pakistan comes to terms with itself and conducts its affairs as a normal nation. For this to happen it has to shed its deep rooted notions of Islamic superiority and victimhood. This is not about to happen. Its establishment and people have rationalized their policy of state terror and its export to India. In Pakistan all gestures and attempts at a dialog by India are evidence that their behavior is paying dividends. It feeds into their national – religious psychosis that India (and now USA, too) is weak and can be had.

    Mr. Singh – god bless his heart for seeking peace. But peace cannot be had with heart. It can be lasting with a religious state that adopts all means, not matter how grotesque, to justify its end. Despite his romanticism, I hope he knows the Islamic Doctrine of Taqiyya which legitimizes deception. In that tradition, Pakistan seeks peace until its position is solidified and then it will shred all treaties (like Tashkent and Shimla Agreements) to create new issues of “injustice”. I hope Mr. Singh has not forgotten what happened to India with PM Vajpayee’s visit to Pakistan. He went to seek peace and was rewarded with war by his gracious host.

    So let fans of both countries escape the realities of peace and indulge in a great cricket match – that is all. Recommend

  • http://India Ajay

    @G. Din:
    Aptly said. I have always been frustrated and curious about our ‘great’ hindu/bahart legacy. Why weren’t we strong enough, created strong armies to tackle futuroistic invading forces from foreign lands? Was our culture weak in not being able to defend? The answer I get is a)We didn’t know what barbarism these Muslim invaders were capable of. We learnt it the first time then. Ours was a culture based on [peaceful coexistance and minor wars b)Our culture did not believe in forcible conversions of other people to Hinduism nor did it believe in conquets of other people’s lands, hence we never built maruading armies like others.

    How true is this? We Indians paid a heavy price through centuries of ruthless butcher for that one weakness.Recommend

  • Confused

    Peace isn’t being friends. Peace is healthy economic activity between the two countries. You can hate each other, but you won’t kill one who trades with you. One match can get temporary activity between the countries, but thats about it.Recommend

  • ani

    @G. Din:
    You should blog. You have something to offer. Besides you have a feel for language. Recommend

  • Hitendra

    Watch this YT video clearly exposing Pakistani mentality towards Hindus.

  • qaisar farooq

    hello Mr.Arif what you say that Pakistan will become a part of india? how ridicules is this….look Pakistan never going to become a part of so called republic country india.we live in a great country and we are proud to be Pakistani.we live here with full freedom in every part of life and yes we know that we are in trouble but it is our part of life to fight with difficulties,and dangers.Pakistan is one of the most important countries in the world, we are unite and remember we like to be a friends of india but on the basis of equality. please do something for your own country where in over 13 states rebels fighting for freedom from india.Recommend

  • qaisar farooq

    very funny dear…you say giving visas to Pakistanis become headache for us…good you show the right picture of india. but how romantic is this for Pakistan that same indian government refused Pakistani players to be a part of IPL and also was not agree to play with Pakistan and now our team in india to play cricket on indian soil…….wait wait wait….it is not because of india it is a slap on indian faces that our 15 players running on the land of india…. Recommend

  • AG

    @Prof. Tahir Husain:
    Dear Prof. Husain
    I guess many Pakistanis believe that Indians have not accepted the reality of Pakistan. And that many of them dream that India and Pakistan would be one again.
    If one were to take a referendum in India today, the results may surprise you. Agreed, that there are some pre 1947 senior citizens who could feel so out of nostalgia, but the fact remains that no Indian, if it comes to a choice would vote for reunification. Indians by an large believe that no community or religion can co exist with Muslims, and the Pakistanis are proving this hypothesis by their deeds. The hatred stems mainly from the fact that while Muslims got their country and exterminated all minorities from Pakistan, India is still left with Muslims equal in number to the Pakistani population, which many feel is unfair.
    Partition was a must, and if not Jinnah and Nehru, someone down the line would have caused it. What should have happened was a negoiated partition of the country on the basis of per capita wealth of the pre 1947 status.
    One question: Given a choice to go to Pakistan with all their assets, how many Muslims from India would migrate to Pakistan?Recommend

  • Raqib Ali

    Match will not solve our problem but, with each match, we realise how much alike we are! No one is sure who will win. This alone says a lot about both nations’ capabilities.Recommend

  • Kobe

    Very well said, exactly I would really like to know how many muslims will go to Pakistan, and wait one more think, they argue on Kashmir all the time. Lets really have a vote in Kashmir and see if they want to join the Pakistan. Anyone one excluding religious fanatics will never choose Pakistan because they know they will be in trouble. people in 21st century vote with their head not mind and trust me, not one person would vote where 45 percent of the voters were frauds!!!!!!!!!!!!! check your country’s news then talk. Recommend

  • Blunt!

    I would really like to befriend more people from across the border!Recommend

  • http://Newark Cherish Raj

    @ Prof Tahir

    Why should we accept the hate mongering two nation theory? That is not part of the spiritual landscape of this great nation. Try spreading that to your jehadis who are hell bent on exterminating not only the Hindus and Christians but also your Shias and Ahmadis. Any hope of genuine peace between India and Pakistan is an absolute zero.Having said that, we can strive for a no war scenario. But even that looks bleak because the majority of the Pak population has been radicalized. Even in Islam, there is something called ‘hudna’ which is essentially a truce between the ‘dar-ul-harb’ (which India is as part of the non Muslim world) and the ‘dar-ul-Islam’ when and only when the non Muslim nation is the stronger party. So it is imperative that India remains militarily and economically stronger than Pakistan for the ‘hudna’ to remain in place. Or else we know what is gonna happen. Recommend

  • Vicram Singh

    @Ajay: ” How true is this? We Indians paid a heavy price through centuries of ruthless butcher for that one weakness.

    The Vedic civilization evolved in a state of plenty and so, using aggression for the purpose of gathering resources was never became part of the gene. The emphasis was more on living simply and in harmony. This ability to live in peace and harmony is in our genes. This gene makes India what it is today. Unfortunately, lack of aggression has resulted in genocide of Hindus. But then we never forget, do we.Recommend

  • Vicram Singh

    @ Prof. Tahir

    “Much of it is due to the fact that the Indians have not accepted, from their hearts the Two Nation Theory , from their hearts.”

    In a way you are right. Agreeing to the Partition was a tactical move on the part of Hindus. We needed time and a place to recover from Islamic and British rule, before launching quest for AKHAND BHARAT. Recommend

  • imarn ali

    rahman malik very bad man as he not supporting pakistani team see his comment about pakistani team