We were just a collection of atoms,
who came together for a brief period,
and then fell apart. 🙂
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.
Beneath the spontaneous warmth between Indian and Pakistan lurk dark suspicions and fears.
Six and a half years since the two countries were created, the Wagah border is still the only road link between India and Pakistan. Wagah, the only road crossing the border between India and Pakistan is located 32 kilometers from Amritsar. The road connects Amritsar, Punjab, India with Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan.
Wagah, is a village which got divided in 1947 during the partition. Today, the eastern part of the village resides in India.
I first visited Wagah Border last year during the winter’s. The soldier’s are more than 7 ft tall, but if you count the huge fan-shaped headdresses they are much more, they wiggle at each other like peacocks, just inches apart either side of the India-Pakistan border. For 45 minutes every sunset they high kick, speed march and shout their way through a choreographed routine that ends in the lowering of both flags and the slamming of the border gates. Called the ‘Retreat Ceremony’ is a daily military practice that the security forces of India (Border Security Forces) and Pakistan (Pakistani Rangers) have jointly followed since 1959.
Borders can sometimes reflect the reality of the countries that lie within them. For India and Pakistan, the land border at Wagah reflects both the confusion that lies at the heart of our current realities and the history that gave rise to them. The relationship between India and Pakistan is made up of love and hate, and a fair confusion which occurs because of regular uneven occurrences near the border.
Recently, I read a short story of Hardev Singh, a farmer, whose family’s land which was marooned in no-man’s land in 1947. He hates the crowds and the military posturing just up the fence at the sunset ceremony. It might be a Ceremony for many but for few its just loss of their land and families.
By itself, a settlement with India will not make Pakistan a safe place. But it would encourage a series of changes— building up democratic institutions, spending more on health and education, rejecting Islamist terrorism. Until that happens, Pakistan will remain a disappointment to itself and a danger to the world.
To bring peace, the Guns Must Fall silent.