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Sunday, November 25, 2012

I don't support Cricket with Pakistan - Pak tour to India

I love the game of Cricket, and discuss about the game with my friends for hours together……….. I LOVE MY NATION MORE.. Some say that “Cricket Unites” and goodwill gets created ‘sans border’ especially when there is match between India and Pakistan  Hard to believe ! ~ only recently on 21st Nov. the dreaded mercenary, Pakistani gunman involved in Mumbai attacks was hanged at Yerawada prison – he was only a tool ~ those who had sent him are still at large.  For every terrorist attack, Indian Ministry is quick to state that is handiwork of militants from across the border and that Pakistan is actively encouraging them providing them nesting space…. When that is the case, why have sporting relations with them, when the security and peace of the Nation is at stake.

In a move which defies logic,  India's home ministry has cleared a limited-overs tour by the Pakistan team, prompting the BCCI to say the tour "is on" at the end of the year. The clearance was given at a meeting in New Delhi  between ministry officials and senior representatives of the BCCI - including its chief administrative officer Ratnakar Shetty, IPL chairman Rajiv Shukla and chief executive Sundar Raman.  Rajiv Shukla was quoted as saying that they had discussed all security aspects (and) the tour is on.  I had thought that BCCI administers Cricket and stops with that !!!

The tour  reportedly would have 2 T20s and 3 ODIs – at Bangalore, Ahmedabad, Chennai, Kolkatta and Delhi from 25th Dec to Jan 6th 13.  It will be the first bilateral series between the two sides since Pakistan toured India in end-2007, though they have met in multinational tournaments. Cricket ties between the two countries were snapped following the 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai by militants from Pakistan.

It is Pakistan's turn to host a bilateral series between the two. But there has been no international cricket in the country between Full Members since the March 2009 attack on the Sri Lanka team bus and it is understood that India were not keen to play at a neutral venue, as has been the case with all Pakistan's 'home' series since the attack. Subsequently, Ashraf said India had the prerogative to decide on the dates and host the series, but the PCB would want the BCCI to share revenue as they were apparently yet to recover from the financial loss suffered when India pulled out of their planned tour in 2009. So the magnanimous BCCI appears to have decided to host the Series and perhaps share the bounty with PCB too.

Playing Cricket is different – revival of Pakistan Cricket Board’s fortune is also another ~ the Nation’s security and sentiments are paramount. Is there need and correct reason to revive Sporting ties with a hostile Nation at this stage when they are relentless.  Immediately upon hanging of Ajmal Kasab, former cricketer Imran Khan's party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)  demanded the hanging of Indian prisoner Sarabjit Singh in retaliation.  Kasab and Sarabjit Singh are no comparisons.   Sarabjit Singh has been on death row for over two decades. India and Sarabjit's family maintains that he is innocent who happened to stray over the international border in an ebriated state and his was a case of mistaken identity.

In a demonstration organized by the party in Multan, PTI leader Naeemullah Khan said, "India waited for less than a month after the final verdict by their judiciary and we are protecting the terrorists for the last eight years." Blaming the Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, he said that the president was the biggest hurdle to execution of terrorists on death row in the country. It is pertinent to remember that no Pakistan cricketer figured in the last three editions of the Indian Premier League; though Sialkot Stallions participated in Champions League T20, it was hosted at South Africa and not in India

In 2005, sitting side by side to watch their countries play cricket, that the Indian prime minister, Manmohan Singh, and the then Pakistani president, Pervez Musharraf, declared to the world that the peace process between their two nations was "irreversible".  Years later,  Pakistani militants, apparently supported by the Pakistani secret service, unleashed a terror attack in Mumbai which left 166 dead and hundreds more maimed.  Clearly there is no point in ‘cricket diplomacy’. 

Back  in Mumbai, where the wounds from the attacks remain raw, the opposition and ruling parties of the Maharashtra state parliament reacted angrily to the news. "We should consider allowing them to come to our country only after Pakistan clears its policy on international terrorism," said Ramdas Kadam, leader of the local Shiv Sena party. Abu Azmi from the Samajwadi party in Maharashtra added: "Pakistan is a culprit [in the terror attacks] in Mumbai. How can we have sporting relations with them?"  Sunil Gavaskar, a former Indian international batsman,  was quoted as saying: "Being a Mumbaikar I feel: what is the urgency when there is no co-operation from the other side?"
There is further news that the Government sounded a word of caution about the resumption of cricket ties with Pakistan saying that one of the main 26/11 accused, David Coleman Headley, had entered India on the pretext of watching matches. Minister of state for external affairs E Ahmed said the issue of visas to Pakistani nationals coming to India to watch cricket matches at various venues will be in accordance with extant rules and regulations.  He was quoted as stating that terrorism against India emanating from Pakistan and territory under its control remains a core concern for us.   It is reported that two alleged conspirators of Mumbai terror attack, as revealed by David Coleman Headley, visited New Delhi in 2005 on the pretext of watching India-Pakistan cricket match, said Ahmed.

Some political parties feel that there is no point in resuming cricket with Pakistan until it changed its attitude towards terrorism.  Even if the threat of terrorism is perceived, such diplomacy should not be extended when the neighbouring Nation continues to be hostile. ~ and if such tour does takes place, the Govt. must ensure that Visas are granted to not a single individual other than the Team ~ why allow people to visit the Nation unchecked in the garb of Cricket diplomacy…..  On earlier occasions, there have been reports that hundreds who came under the garb of visiting the Test match, never returned back and have vanished into various parts of the Nation.

Even though an ardent fan of Cricket, I feel that this is not the opportune time and there is no fun in rejoicing the game when grave risk to the Nation is perceived.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.

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