It’s not Just Cricket!

It’s not Just Cricket!

As arch rivals India and Pakistan play against each other in the finals of the Champion’s Trophy, the whole subcontinent would be bracing itself for the Grand Finale. Cricketing contests between India and Pakistan are not mere sporting contests; these are more. Visceral and profound emotions get aroused both during the matches and after. Depending upon which emotional or perhaps more accurately, politico-emotional fault line where you sit, its heart ache or celebrations for the people after these emotion laden matches between India and Pakistan. All this is well known and , in one way or the other, most people in the subcontinent can relate to it. But politics in the subcontinent deprives people of the titillating and wondrous moments of cricketing contests between India and Pakistan, Only yesterday, Amit Shah, a BJP leader, said that there would be no bilateral cricket between India and Pakistan. That is, the two countries could play against each other but only in places other than India and Pakistan. This is as churlish and even short sighted as it gets. If India and Pakistan sporting contests generate tremendous energy and passion, then the sport could as well be employed as an instrument for/of diplomacy. This has, in a different permutation and combination been tried elsewhere in the past. In the early 70’s, China and the United States took recourse to what was called as the “ ping pong diplomacy” which paved the way for opening up of relations between the two countries. The same, employing the game and contest of cricket can be done between India and Pakistan. Cricket can , if used dexterously, can be employed as the ram rod to , bring about a rapprochement between the two countries. The passions that a sporting contest would generate would be enormous and then the two sides could indulge in some bonhomie. This could potentially break the ice and then sticking points between the two sides could be discussed. The task of conflict resolution could then begin. But central to any talks between India and Pakistan- whether staggered, circuitous or any other form, would and should be Kashmir. Sans Kashmir any exercise, as the past so eloquently corroborates and validates, would be one in vanity. Let then the two estranged neighbors play cricket and let Kashmir be the cause that animates this potential cricket diplomacy.

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