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Gentlemen, Play? Not!

August 26, 2003

Interesting responses, guys -- interestingly, they are almost unanimously against resumption of cricketing ties with Pakistan. (In passing, I have left out a large number of responses sent from anonymous emails -- you know, the kind where the sender's name is some kind of alphabet soup, of the 'axy123' variety. This arena is meant for people to discuss issues that interest all of us -- so let's get some people in here, what say?)

If the question -- Should India play cricket against Pakistan? -- is taken in isolation, my answer would be an unequivocal No.

In fact, I recall writing about this on earlier occasions. Here are two of those columns, spread out in time; there are others, and they all advanced pretty much the same arguments. I've not seen any reason, between then and now, to change my own opinion on the subject:

The only question that still puzzles me is: Granting that Pakistan sponsors terrorism; granting that we are not prepared to tolerate the continued war of attrition that sees a few Indian lives lost every single day, why is cricket alone the means to register our protest?

Why are we sending buses and parliamentarians and journalists and high commissioners and business delegations to and fro, while cricket tours alone are vetoed?

Shouldn't it be all, or nothing -- preferably, all?

Anyways -- I personally don't feel particularly sanguine about this whole peace process business the government has embarked on anyway.

It is not that I have reason to question our government's sincerity, or motivation -- I just don't think, the way Pakistan is structured, that peace initiatives will be as well received across the border.

Historically, whenever the two nations have sought to bring about peace, the lunatic fringe has kicked in and the result has been an escalation in violence and bloodshed. General Musharraf -- who now seeks to put a dove of peace on his shoulder just above his military epaulettes -- was in fact guilty of precisely the same thing, namely using Pakistan troops dressed up as militants to try a military adventure in Kargil, when then Prime Minister Nawaz Shariff was trying his hand at bringing about peace.

Now it is Musharraf talking peace -- and sure as shooting, there is likely to be some military type planning the next round of mayhem, in the background.

For why? Because that is the nature of the beast -- like it or not, the military rules Pakistan; said military gets its standing by raising, and constantly holding aloft, the India bogey.

It is classic misdirection. If you recall, there was a time when India's economy was reeling and internal affairs was in a shambles; the prime minister of the time promptly came up with a catch-phrase calculated to divert attention: beware the foreign hand, Indira Gandhi kept warning then; we all looked outwards, to this malevolent foreign hand, and were thus distracted enough to not ask too many hard questions about what was going on in our own country.

Same difference -- by all accounts, the Pakistan economy is in shambles; people struggle and suffer and, in normal circumstances, would be inclined to raise questions and generally make life tough for the rulers.

So, enter the Indian bogey. By holding up India as the genesis of all Pakistan's ills, the rulers divert attention from their own inabilities and misdeeds; they always have, and always will. 

I'll get off this subject for now -- and move on to your own mails on the subject. I do have other mails -- on Sachin, and a few other topics of interest -- in my box here, but will leave those for the next update, on Thursday. Meanwhile, over to you:

Your Responses: Part One

Previous Blog: In Praise of Sourav


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