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To play or not to play Pak?

September 03, 2003

Rohit: I would like to say that Indo Pakistan issues are political ones. We have to fight polices as major conflict is in the area of Jammu Kashmir. The fight is on for the hold in Pakistan. The Bus and communication between two countries should be seen as a trade relation rather than political relation.

Many an effort is going on to bring normalcy of behaviour between the Jantha of two countries leaving aside the Jammu Kashmir and militant issues.

The other broder issues are there for 45 years now which will be there until and otherwise politicians decide not to sit on those issues and created unwanted fued.

Mainly the clergies and islamic fanatics are responsible for thrusting religion on others and create communal voilence and unrest.

Pravin Shankar: This is in response to your blog on "If it is war, so be it."

What you have proposed is an excellent solution, one that is not as far-fetched and quixotic as it may sound on first reading. Its the most practical, effective, and permanent way to go about it. Really, I have been thinking on exactly these lines ever since 9/11 happened. The question I have to you is this - what is stopping the government from taking this drastic step. & I have tried to enumerate some of the possible reasons:

-          lack of provocation: Thats definitely not true, there have been so many provocations in the past year itself, right from Dec 13th parliament attacks, to the attack on the kashmiri pundits, the attacks are far too many, & the problem is that public (and media included) have a very short memory. If we cannot react after so many attacks then theres no reason to believe that the government will react once something of the magnitude of 9/11 happens to us.

-          lack of political agenda: The politicians may think that once this Kashmir issue gets solved, what will their next agenda for elections be. But on the contrary, having solved an issue of this magnitude & importance itself will ensure that the government is secure for the next 50-100 years and they need no more political agenda.

-          fear of failure: This again is not all that great an issue. We are not attacking a neighbouring country like US did. We just have to seal and purge Kashmir, and considering the number of terrorists once we seal off the border, and comparing it to India's military might, theres no reason for us to fear failure.

-          practicality: People may argue as to how practical it is to seal off a whole state, that too one as big as J&K. But then if we look at what can be achieved if we do carry out this operation in full earnest (viz. peace in J&K and the death of terrorism), then Im sure everyone will agree that such a step is well worth the risk attached to it.

-          Nothing in this world is got for free. There are sacrifices that will be involved, but they are very much needed if we need to find a permanent solution to this burning problem in Kashmir. Look at any small thing we do, there are sacrifices that we make... eg. Let me make an analogy to the act of constructing a flyover: (I live in Bangalore where this is a pressing problem) Currently the whole of Bangalore is facing one of the worst nightmarish situations in terms of traffic congestion. Thats because around 10 flyovers are being simultaneously constructed in the most peak traffic zones in Bangalore. But then we are making this sacrifice because of a dream: The dream of a traffic-free Bangalore.

This is a similar dream, only a more mammoth one. The dream of a terrorism-free Kashmir. & The operation suggested by you, I am sure, is a step towards achieving that dream. & I am sure that all Indian citizens (at least a large majority of them) are willing to make whatever sacrifices are needed in order to attain this dream.

We really want such an operation to take place. Can you convey this idea of yours to the government just like you conveyed it to us? I'm sure they will be equally impressed with this idea of yours. I'm sure Ataljee & APJ have the audacity to successfully carry out such an operation. For the sake of the dreams of millions of indians - a dream of a peaceful Kashmir!

Suneel: Definitely, agreed, people are dying in Kashmir and terrorism needs to be combatted there. But what in the world does that have to do with Pakistan's cricketers playing India's cricketers? Cricket is a GAME, it should be kept separate from politics. And when you talk about people dying in Kashmir, what about the people dying at the hands of the Hindutva STATE in Gujarat, in Bombay, in Ayodhya, and elsewhere all over India? What about the hate and venom that the shadowy organizations that are behind the current Indian govt are spreading right now? Shouldn't Pakistan then refuse to play India as well?

And OK, if you're scared about players' safety if they tour Pakistan, then why not just ask them to tour India again instead? And since when did Indian crowds win plaudits for gentlemanly/polite conduct as compared to their Pakistani compatriots? Have you forgotten the fascist Shiv Sena's digging up and burning the Kotla pitch, threatening to kill all the visiting players, throwing death threat letters and poisonous snakes on their embassy lawns in Delhi? Perhaps you consider that a more sophisticated form of barracking. What I don't understand is why do you want to mix sport with politics? Granted, a whole lot of the rulers in Pakistan are really nasty guys with very bad intentions, but then are militaristic, ultraviolent hawks like Togadia, Advani, Uma Bharti, Swaraj, Naidu, Singhal, Thackeray, etc any better? You think they don't have similarly violent solutions to the problem?

And since when did Pakistan's cricketers become representatives of cross-border terrorism? They're just professional sportsmen like our guys wanting to play. And OK, an Indo-Pak game gets them fired up, just as it gets our guys fired up, but in the end it's just a GAME, it's not life, once the game is over, we are just humans living our lives again, and I think you tend to forget that. Also, I don't know if you're aware or not, but our very own intelligence agency, RAW has frequently carried out similar cross border terrorist actions in Pakistan, except that it never gets heard of or reported in India, because we all want to believe that we are the good, great nation with the supposedly democratic govt. fighting the evil Paki menace.

It's very easy to be an iron man hawk sitting here in NY, but when India & Pakistan are on the brink of annahilating each other with nukes, are you're sitting in Delhi, as I was in June of last year, trying seeing how proudly you can thump your patriotic chest. Please, just stick to writing cricket. People are dying everywhere, not just in Kashmir, and if our own govts. had not kept continuously rigging elections there and our military forces had not kept continuously murdering, butchering and raping with as much, if not more impunity as the militants, it would not have given the crazies on the other side of the border the opportunity to foster and develop terrorism as they have. Your view is extremely narrow-minded and myopic. Let's give peace a chance, and play up, play up and play the game.

Prem: As a matter of fact, I was in Mumbai at the time, but why quibble? Your point seems to be that it is perfectly okay to kill each other with one hand, and play cricket with the other, so to speak -- fair enough, you have your views, I have mine, and no one said everyone has to think alike.

Capt Naresh K Wadera, Surbiton, Surrey: This is to put on record that I oppose any Air Service, Train Service, Bus Service, Parliamentary Delegations etc. to and from Pakistan until Pakistan stops its support of Cross Border Terrorism.

However, India although allowing the above, for its own purposes, must not Play Cricket with Pakistan.

Firstly other Cricketing nations -  except Bangladesh, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka - have refused to tour Pakistan due to Safety Concerns.

Secondly and most important is the fact that India-Pakistan Cricket Matches Generate Huge Funds (Especially when played in India where the Stadiums have very large Capacity) and the Pakistan Cricket Control Board is begging India to play Cricket with Pakistan so that the PCB - being in Financial Straits - can at last look to a Healthy Financial Status.

Thirdly and this is important too is the fact that the Pakistani Cricketing Enthusiasts are deprived of High Quality International Cricket being played in Pakistan. This causes a lot of resentment against the Pakistani Government handling its relations with India.

Let India withold the playing of Cricket until the Pakistanis stop their Terrorism in India.

Deepak Shah, NSW, Australia: This is a waxed question. On one hand love for the game forces me to say that there would be nothing better than watching cricket between India and Pakistan  in Lahore and/or Calcutta. However, for someone who lives so far away from the two countries in relative peace, it may be hard to fathom sense of despondency and hatred within Indian populace due to continued terror-arm twisting by Pakistan. Indeed how can you play a nation who unequivocally would love to see India as a country get decimated?

Or is that perception correct? Would majority of Pakistanis have felt great elation at the Mumbai Blast? Are they all happy about reign of terror in Kashmir and disappointed that the noted terrorist of Kashmir is dead? My gut feeling is, average Pakistani doesn't care much about all these events. A politician is happy to feed the anti-India hatred to get his "ullu sidha". My presumption is that an average Pakistani would have been more touched by the Noor case than ISI sponsored successes in Kashmir and/or India. I believe lack of democracy makes it that much difficult for an average Pakistani to express himself/herself and hence being accepted as a despot hating everything Indian. Indians are lucky that way.

May be cricket can bring about the heart-transplant that is required for the relationship between both the countries to improve/change. I am sure with the existing hearts, we will NEVER be able to see eye-to-eye.

I can understand not going to Pakistan to play. Why not do so in England or Australia or even West Indies or South Africa. (leave aside venues like Sharjah or Sri Lanka). I think cricket will bring about a change in attitudes on both the sides of the fence. I would say, let cricket flow; the drought has been far too long...

Living away from India for a while now, somehow, I have left that hatred behind. May be as I said earlier, since I am not greatly affected by day-to-day terrorism issues. However, as an outsider's point of view, I appeal to all to at least, give it a thought..

Suneel Mubayi/Columbia University: To Mr. Prem Panicker, who sits conveniently in Manhattan and waxes 'eloquent' about the evil-ness of Pakistan, It is sickening to read the pitiable, fascist, ultraviolent, ultrahateful tripe that you put on your website. Obviously you have somehow convinced yourself that being an expert in cricket makes you an expert in politics too.

The 'lunatic fringe' you talk about includes exactly people like you, who do not care to differentiate between the people of Pakistan, who are of exactly the same ethnicity, culture, blood, and beliefs as us Indians, and their government, which is not in their hands. And since when the hell did you think that India is doing so great right now, when it is about to slip into the hands of an extreme rightwing, Hindutva fascist (and I differentiate from the Hinduism of secular, peace loving Indians) Nazi-like dictatorship?

Who the hell are you trying to fool? By trying to portray all of Pakistan as violence-loving and India-phobic, you are only showing your own love for violence, intolerance, stereotypes, ignorance and hatred, not to mention blind Paki-phobia.

If India didn't play Pakistan, self-appointed opinion maker asshole journalists like you wouldn't have a job in New York. And anyways, are you getting some kind of a commission from the Overseas Friends of BJP/Hindu Students Council/Hindu to write this venom on a mainstream portal?

If you utterly despise all of Pakistan so much, why'd you bother to do commentary on the Indo-Pak world cup game? If your ideology is so important to you, why don't you become a full time activist or go and join the Indian army and fight at the LOC instead of cowering in front of a computer in New York and whining about 'your' fellow countrymen dying due to terrorism? And have you ever bothered to read Pakistani papers like Dawn ( and Jang ( They offer far more balanced and sane criticisms of their own govt than you. So kindly cut the crap and stick to writing cricket.

Prem: Actually, I've been keeping my responses in here to a minimum because I would much rather have people talk to each other, than to me.

So I'll merely make one quick point, and ask one quick question.

The point is, at no point in my article did I mention, derogatorily or otherwise, the people of Pakistan.

The question is -- and I ask this in a spirit of curiosity, and in hope that your answer might help me plan my career better -- how do I get a job in NY because India doesn't play Pakistan? Seems a bit of a reach, but then, it is your space, your thoughts.

Rajiv Sinha: Good to have you back to keep the minds of us readers in motion.

Well establishing any kind of relationship with Pakistan, be it political, peaceful or through Cricket defies common sense.  As one reader rightfully pointed out a quote from Sunny Deol's HERO, "bar bar jo galti kare woh Pakistan", is so apt for that country, understanding the significance of it belies on our part any attempts  to make peace with it. Some Indians and Westerners alike keep harping on us Indians following the Gandian principle of non-violence or turning the other cheek.  Well where did it bring us, a tenaciously hostile neighbour whose entire existence is un-Indian. 

I rather like what Confusius had to say "be good with good, be just with evil".  Many of the comments posted on this topic talk about hitting the financial base of PCB, on the contrary, Pakistan has enough resources acquired through coersion by blackmailing the west by first creating the jehadi apparatus and then charging fees for providing facilities to contain it.

Besides, Pakistan is the final frontier of drug production, distribution as well as consumption in Asia.  All India can do is keep up the good efforts of hitting Pakistan's economy till there will be nothing left to sustain the Military apparatus, and if that includes not having sporting ties, including Cricket, so be it.  I am sure a lot of Pakistanis think the same, as survival, future of their children is more important than being entertained one day by images of Indians dying and the next playing Cricket with India and being smashed around as happened in Durban 2003.

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