Of cricket and Pakistan
Team India will play Pakistan this weekend in England. India is committed to the Champions Trophy, though it may seem incongruous it will not play Pakistan in any bilateral series. Curious as this appears, it’s the Pakistan government and its Army that have made it impossible for nation-to-nation sporting ties to continue. The Indian government, through its sports minister, has unequivocally said there is no question of direct sporting ties. Given the recent two beheadings of Indian soldiers in raids across the border and “proxy” attacks on Indian military bases in the past year or so, it is obvious normal sport can’t go on in an atmosphere of naked hostility.
The government was forced to make its stand clear to quell any thoughts the BCCI may have had of fostering cricket ties in a diplomatic gesture at its meeting with the Pakistani board in Dubai. The cash-strapped PCB not only appealed to the BCCI to honour ICC cricket commitments, but also threatened to sue it for breach of contract and claim compensation. But it’s also true that some diplomatic channels must be kept open, which is what the external affairs minister used to rescue an Indian woman forced into a marriage from Pakistani soil.
Humanity tends to win even in belligerent times, but such instances of international relations triumphing can’t be seen as a sign of normality, and the last thing to expect while dealing with the Pakistanis. At such times, it is futile to believe sport can truly be separated from other overwhelming national priorities.