The sky-high cricket excitement in Pakistan and India proves one thing again and again, that is, people of the two countries are sport-lovers. The crowds in the stadiums, in front of TV screens, drawing rooms discussions, focus on ‘cricket media’ and may be ‘betting’ too—all tell one story—cricket transcends the Kashmir issue, nuclear armament, troops build-up and Jehadis hate propaganda when the two nations fight in the cricket ground.
A Hindu with surname ‘Arjun’ and a Muslim with surname ‘Ahmad’, everyone is amused with the fact that the two countries, referred to as arch rivals, are facing one another in one of the biggest fixtures of the World Cup 2011. They have their favorite teams, no doubt, but they wish a victory for their country on a cricket ground and not on a battle ground.
The love and spirit shown for cricket tell that a population of more than a billion people living in Pakistan and India dismiss the war hype in media and battle plans discussed in military briefing rooms. It tells the story in very loud words—no more “Kasabs”. A Karachi-based columnist Nadeem Paracha in a tweet, while exposing the hate-loving media, rightly observed: “Strange how news about ‘political crises’ in Pakistan has almost vanished from TV with the coming semis. Proof that much of it was manufactured.”
India, being the bigger nation, has more stakes in the region. Its smaller neighbor, Pakistan, a nation of a few rogue generals and a hub of terrorist network, has unfortunately chosen anti-Indianism as a cornerstone of its survival. That policy might suit the selfish short-term personal and institutional objectives of a few rogue elements via planning Mumbai attacks. India, however, can’t afford a tit for tat policy vis-à-vis terror as that has the risk of re-enforcing the interests of the terror-mongers in Islamabad and New Delhi, though their numbers and influence are more visible in the former and less in the latter.
It’s a pity that the ideological arch rivals in power corridors kept cricket suspended between the two cricket-loving nations for decades. Taking the bait of ‘terror’, and not allowing its team to play in Lahore, Karachi and Peshawar, India is basically playing on the ‘anti-Indianism’ pitch, created by men in uniform and their proxies called Jehadis. The suspensions have dominated the playing seasons despite a thirst for more sports events--a fact showing politicians and masses weaker than generals and their proxies.
Ordinary Pakistanis, like their Indian counterparts, love playing cricket with India, prefer watching Bollywood movies, observe all good Hindu rituals in marriage ceremonies, wish visiting Mumbai, Agra, New Delhi and have mouth-watering effects when they hear stories of ‘shining India’. Pakistanis are fed up with Jehadi-based war tactics, Kargil-like adventures and want peace with their neighbors.
They, however, are not the ones who represent Islamabad vis-a-Delhi. It should be Delhi to align its policies in line with the ordinary Pakistanis while debating its Pakistan-specific strategy. Otherwise, Pakistani generals, right-wing politicians, religious parties and un-uniformed forces like Lashkar-e-Tayyeba, Jaish-e-Muhammad, Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, al-Badar and their scores of friendly groups have always discouraged cricket between the two nations. The same applies to a few crazy groups, such as Shiv Sena, on the Indian side who too marked their hate day with attacking pitches and issuing threats against the Pakistan cricket squad in recent history.
The democratic forces on both sides of the border need to reassess the relations while presenting the cricket frenzy as model for steps towards regional harmony. More cricket gives more chance for catharsis of the mutual differences and bursts out the stuck mentalities on both sides of the border. It is the possible forceful softest weapon against the menace of terror and turning barren the Jehadi factories in Pakistan. And as said by Pakistani skipper Shahid Afridi, cricket has the potential for improving relations, between New Delhi and Islamabad.