Post Pulwama attack on Indian soldiers on Feb 14, 2019, post the Pak based outfit’s owning its responsibility, India and Pakistan has teetered on the edge of war.
Both countries have exchanged hostilities. One of the casualties was cricket. It had to be. There were calls on the Indian side to sever all cultural and tomato based ties with Pakistan.
This wasn’t surprising. Since the 2008 Mumbai attacks, much of the diplomatic impasse between India and Pakistan has been played out on “soft” power issues like cricket and the arts. Pulwama proved to be the last nail in the coffin, it endorsed the ‘ban Pakistan’ views. Consequently, Pakistani artists, actors, musicians and athletes were swiftly banned in India. This is widely viewed as a natural reaction by India due to terrorist actions on it by outfits operating from Pakistani soil. The Indian market and audience for cricket and the arts is so huge that it imposes huge losses on Pakistani compatriots.
The sequence of events culminated in the demand that Pakistan be removed from International cricketing events including the impending World Cup in June 2019.
Today, India has become the most powerful cricketing nation with a huge gap with its nearest competitor. India’s de facto control of the cricket world means that it can dictate terms. Pakistan just can not compete with India on this. Recently, its captain was banned due to his indecent actions. Pakistan has gained more foes than friends.
This time the call to ban Pakistan may appear a bridge too far. There is neither any precedent nor any legislation regarding such an issue. But the Indian demand does make other member Nations seriously conscious of Pakistan reputation on terrorism, and the rebuke Pakistan got from the U.S., the Arab world and China post India’s pre-emptive actions. The memories of attack on a bus carrying Sri Lankan players in Pakistan are still recalled even after 10 years.
Moreover, other ICC member countries can not afford to endanger their cricketing and cultural ties with India given the lucrative commercial packages that come along with it.
India’s continued refusal to have bilateral cultural and cricketing relations appears set to continue with Pakistan. This extends to the exclusion of Pakistani players and commentators from the Indian Premier League – the world’s biggest franchise league, the like of which Pakistan has not been able to set so far on its soil. After all, no follower of the game can easily digest exchanging fires at borders and playing cricket simultaneously.
India has to use suspending cricket and cultural ties with Pakistan as a moral imperative.
Cricket used to serve earlier as a base for peace, friendship and harmony, but now the situation is different. Pakistan is itself to blame for portraying a negative image of itself abroad, and it is aptly mirrored by its captain’s thoughts on a South African cricketer.
Hereinafter, ICC member Nations will think a thousand times before having a sporting or cultural relation with Pakistan.