War, Peace and Cricket

War, Peace and Cricket
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In 1987, India conducted massive military mobilization and maneuvers which alarmed Pakistan to the extent of counter mobilization and maneuvers by Pakistan. The situation( or condition) reached such a crescendo that tensions between the countries escalated. But, these intense and serious tensions were defused after both India and Pakistan entered into what has been termed as “Cricket Diplomacy”. As both countries played a game of cricket, tensions got defused and conditions reverted to “normal”. However, fast forward almost exactly three decades and what is observed is that intense truculence defines the relations between India and Pakistan, to the extent that a game of sport has become the victim. In the process, hundreds of thousands of cricket fans across the Indo Pak deprived of both entertainment and watching a sporting competition between the arch rivals. While in 1987, cricket was employed as a diplomatic maneuver or even tactic to resolve tensions, this time around, not playing cricket is building tensions. The real reason(s) that account for this truculence are the rhetoric and positions that India and Pakistan have locked themselves in, so to speak. The attendant war of rhetoric is complemented by the regular but fatal skirmishes along the Line of Control(LoC). Added up, and in combination, both India and Pakistan then refuse to see eye to eye and the name of the game then becomes mutual recriminations and rhetorical grandstanding. This is what best explains India’s external minister Sushma Swaraj’s remarks which preclude resumption of sporting ties between India and Pakistan. So intense is the acrimony between the two countries that the two are structurally unable to see openings for diplomacy and therefore prospects for peace like sporting contests, pilgrimage tourism and other forms and avenues for resumption of bilateral ties. This constitutes a travesty not merely because of lost immediate opportunities for peace but also do not bode well for the future. If the hostile tone and tenor of relations, and even rhetoric continues with the same intensity and pace, then, it might turn and morph into active bellicosity. This is a scenario that nobody wants or needs in South Asia. Intense and formal bellicosity between India and Pakistan is a lose -lose proposition for all sides. As such, all energies must be devoted to pre- empting this scenario from panning out. What better way than to enter into and encourage sporting contests between arch antagonists , India and Pakistan and what better than a game of cricket which people across the divide simply love!

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