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India - Pakistan: Play Sport Not War

27 January 2013

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The News (Pakistan) - 27 January 2013


Sports and borders

Amidst widespread protests by militant Hindu groups, Pakistan’s women cricketers left for India on Saturday to feature in the ICC Women’s World Cup to be held there from January 31. Shiv Sena and other extremist parties like Bajrang Dal and Kalinga Sena have fiercely opposed the idea of Pakistani cricketers playing on Indian soil, especially in the aftermath of cross-border tensions between the two neighbours. They have already forced the organisers to split the World Cup, which was initially supposed to take place at various venues in Mumbai – the powerbase of Shiv Sena. The organisers of the World Cup, which is to feature leading players from several major cricket-playing nations, were forced to move all matches of Group B to the south-eastern city of Cuttack in Odisha. Pakistan is bracketed in that pool with Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. The International Cricket Council (ICC) has recently endorsed the move. But there are still fears that extremists might attempt to disrupt the Pakistani team’s matches in Cuttack because media reports suggest that they haven’t given up yet. However, officials in Odisha sound confident that their leg of the World Cup will take place smoothly, despite all threats.

It is highly unfortunate that sports continues to be one of the victims of political and military tensions between India and Pakistan. The Indian government appears to be tacitly complicit in these moves. Earlier this month, Pakistan’s hockey players were sent back home from India after extremists protested against their participation in a professional hockey league there. And now our women’s cricket team faces extra pressure as it hopes to makes its presence felt in the World Cup, despite receiving a hostile reception in India. It is apparent that a vast majority of people on both sides of the border are in favour of improved relations between the two countries. They also overwhelmingly support a long-term revival of bilateral sporting ties. There have been several attempts to forge better ties but a hawkish minority, especially in India, always manages to either sabotage or hamper such endeavours. It is now time to make concerted efforts on either side to curb this trend. After all, what this region needs most is peace. New Delhi must show some spine, if it has one.


The above editorial from The News is reproduced for educational and non commercial use