Sometimes a sporting event is more than just a game. Sometimes the arena for competition is symbol of a greater reality, in which the twists and turns of a match carry a wider significance. Its not just a game, its India-Pakistan clash.
An India-Pakistan cricket match has been estimated to attract up to three hundred million television viewers according to TV ratings firm Initiative. The 2011 World Cup Semifinal attracted around 1.5 billion TV viewers, the largest television event of the year 2011.
India blamed Pakistan for harboring terrorists but all seemed bleak until a game of cricket gets involved. It’s cricket which has brought both countries out of tension. From the time of partition, it has been sports only by which the too countries have interacted and cricket has been one of the greatest among all in uniting these two Asian countries.
You know in 2011,one of the official World Cup sponsors, Reliance, gave workers in their Infrastructure division the day off, while others simply left their offices early short before the afternoon start. Cinema chains, bars, clubs and restaurants were all showing the action – many charging for tickets to control demand.
And even in one of Asia’s largest slums, Dharavi – featured in the movie “Slumdog Millionaire” – saw people crowding in just to watch India-Pakistan.
“When the going gets tough; the tough get going”. When times get hard between Pakistan and India, rather than cutting off bi-lateral cricketing ties – use them. Use them to improve the relationship between the two countries. Bringing people together will automatically bring love in relations.
I understand the security concerns associated with this, however, a large amount of this concern can be eliminated if the option of playing at neutral venues is explored. There is not a single cricketing country in the world where Pakistan vs India cricket matches won’t sell out. The Indo-Pak encounter, in this year’s Champions Trophy in England, was the first game to sell out as all tickets were gone within 24 hours – even before the England vs Australia tickets!
Government or BCCI can arrange games anywhere in the world and billions of people in South Asia will sit up and take notice. More importantly it will send out a loud and clear message to the 5% of Indo–Pak population who are against peace between the two countries that they cannot prevent peace in South Asia! Government have done a fantastic job by restarting cricketing ties between Pakistan and India – now grab the baton and run with it.
You can cut the tension with a cricket stump.