Should I be watching India vs Pakistan Cricket?

Before you read it further, I would like to make full disclosure that I have been die-hard fan of Indian Cricket. There wasn’t a series I didn’t follow, if time didn’t permit to watch it live, I always followed up scores. If there are 30 runs to be scored in last over, I am that optimist fool, who will think that it can be done. And obvious reasons, I will not go further list my foolishness about cricket love.

Infamous 26/11 incident

This goes back to infamous 26/11 incident; on 27/11/08 I was travelling from remote town of Cirobon of Indonesia to Capital City Jakarta. It was morning 8.00am train to Jakarta. Morning 6.00 AM, I heard some news about L.E.T. attack. I could not understand much of the news, as it was in Bahasa, but summarised (assumed) myself that this probably is Mumbai’s turn of one more Bomb Blast. (Readers might recollect that this was 2008 year of Bomb blasts). I travelled back to Jakarta disturbed but still not bothered much (that’s how this repetitive terror attacks made us). After 3 hours of sleep in train, I reached office and learned intensity of the attack and which was still under progress. First thing, like anyone else, I called up all of my near and dear in Mumbai to check everyone is safe. What transpired between 27 to 29 November in Mumbai is public domain, I will not go further down on this event.

India’s foreign policy; was it not flip flop?

I am accountant by education and entrepreneur of modest IT consulting firm, I understand little of the foreign policy. I will try to apply common sense to make life easy.

So what was our foreign policy for Pakistan post 26/11? To put it in Shashi Tharoor’s words from PAX Indica

“Our Position, first articulated by our prime minister in parliament in 2009, is that we can have meaningful dialogue with Pakistan only if they fulfil their commitment, in letter and spirit, not to allow their territory to be used in any manner for terrorist activities against India. And yet it is also clear that ‘not talking’ is not much of policy”

Even if it was not policy; what changed GOI’s outlook to start the dialogue?

In early June 2009 main conspirator Hafeez Saeed was released by Pakistani Court. And next month July 2009, within six months after 26/11, our Prime Minister travelled to Sharm el Sheikh in Egypt, we all know what happened there.

There was nothing changed then in terms of any of precondition laid out by India for talk, but still we decided to offer our hand with ‘Peace’ message.

Little I understood of what we achieved by not talking or severing ties to the bare minimum with Pakistan?

Did we build any pressure on Pakistan to take any substantial steps against conspirators of 26/11? I guess answer is no. But if you ask Mr Tharoor, he will say Oh! Yes. What we achieved was anyways low hanging fruits

Cricket Diplomacy

So when we stopped talking to Pakistan and kept diplomatic ties bare minimum, in month of December 2008 Central Government did not give permission to BCCI to go ahead with tour of Pakistan which was scheduled in Jan 09 and Feb 09(understandably so, emotion were high then). Following this BCCI made big mess and hu ha over inclusion of Pakistani Player in IPL players in April 2009. Someone in BCCI and government tried to show Pakistan what India can do, if terror attack likes of 26/11 ever launched on India’s soil. (I still feel that this is really silly and laughable incident)

However other sports contact between two countries resumed soon, India sent junior boxing team to Pakistan in December 2009.

When our Prime Minster has tried all diplomacy including cricket diplomacy /designer diplomacy (Hina Khar visit)/’Dargah diplomacy’ etc to go out of the way to make Pakistan comfortable, BCCI continued to boycott bilateral cricketing ties with Pakistan

When Mr Gilani (known as groper in twitter world) was invited in March 2011, on this Mr Shashi Tharoor mentions that

Talking can achieve constructive results; it can identify and narrow the difference between two countries on those issues between them that can be addressed. As Prime Minister Singh as realized, just talking about them can make clear what India’s bottom lines are and minimum standard of civilized conduct India expect from its neighbour. And should it prove necessary, dialogue can also be used to send few tough signals.

Well again in July 2011 Mumbai has witnessed another serial blast, did government send any tough signal then? (We even don’t know what happed to that case, who is responsible? whether Pakistan was directly involved in this case?)

But last month BCCI has gone ahead and announced Pakistan’s tour of India. And Pakistan is already in India played 3 matches so far. It still hurts me that whatever bravado posture we made did not achieve any results and served little purpose.

So what is my point anyways?

  • Did we achieved/received any support from Pakistan vis-à-vis stand we took post 26/11?
  • Cricketing ties could have been suspended in Jan 2009 for obvious reason, but was there need to cut all cultural ties? And what is need for resumption?
  • I am more hurt for the fact that there is absolutely zero coherence and outcome over foreign policy we had since last 4 years with Pakistan.

Conclusion

I am not willing to buy BCCI/government argument that resumption of cricket diplomacy will yield peace. And it did not yield any benefits when we opted not to play with them. At the end of day it still boils down to simple fact that on 26/11, our government has made almost negligible progress to make conspirators to pay for their crime.

When I see Pakistan playing India for a bilateral series, I see Big failure and let down of government foreign policy.

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Kalpesh Chavda

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