T R Vijay, Indore: I am for organising this tour, if not in Pak due to political reason or whatever it is, at least in a neutral territory. For that matter, this should be the case for the senior cricket as well. We did play against them in S. Africa World Cup, so I see no reason why we can't play them in any of these places - Sharjah, Bangladesh, Lanka, Morocco or even any other test playing countries like England S. Africa or Australia (Guess in any of the aforesaid countries, the response from the local expats would be good for sure). Whatever be the political situation, I think cricket should not be made the scapegoat. To say that only cricket invokes our national passion, one should have seen our hostel common room this Sunday when India lost to Pakistan in the hockey bronze medal play-off. So, in all fairness, the cricketing ties should be re-established, in foreign territories temporarily and bilaterally soon.
Renuka Meenakshi Natrajan: I am con tour. All this talk about cricket in subcontinent suffering because of this ban is just humbug. The sole purpose of any India-pak cricket tour at any level is to generate money for the 2 boards. Though I don't grudge BCCI and our cricketers
Making money, I do not like the idea of PCB making money.Especially, when we believe that the Pakistan government is aiding the terrorists both financially and morally, who is to say that a part of the money generated will not be used to aid terrorism against us?
Rahul Sahgal: People are dying every day in Kashmir. Mostly these are innocent civilians targeted by terrorists who have been encouraged, funded, trained and armed by Pakistan.
We Indians often complain about how other countries do not take our issue of terrorism seriously. How can they take us seriously, when for most of the last 15 years, even as we have been complaining about terrorism, we maintained more-or-less normal relations with Pakistan. How can they take our claims seriously when we have been playing cricket and hockey with this country? I'm afraid other countries might be forgiven for thinking that this terrorism issue is not a very important one for India - after all it does not prevent India from maintaining strong sporting links with Pakistan. No self respecting western country would maintain normal relations with another state while it actively engaged in a covert war against them - a war that costs more than 3,000 lives a year.
In the last three years however, I have seen the beginnings of a co-ordinated strategy from the Indian government to show up Pakistan for the terrorist state that it is. This co-ordinated strategy has included both policy and diplomatic initiatives. The moratorium on sporting ties is a key part of that co-ordinated strategy. It sends out a consistent message to the world:
"Pakistan is the epicenter of terrorism. India will not resume normal relations with Pakistan until the terrorism stops."
Every time India refuses to play Pakistan, it reminds the world that India is a victim of terrorism. There has been no significant change on the ground to justify a change to this approach. We tried appeasement for 11 or 12 years from 1989 to 2000. Appeasement only emboldened Pakistan as it graduated to greater and greater outrages. The time has come to give a chance to this other strategy of confronting Pakistan and demonizing it in front of the world. The time has come to take a moral stand. We owe it to all the people who have died through terrorist acts, and the Kargil war, to only soften our stand once we see some real long term change for the better on the ground.
I love cricket. I would love to watch India-Pakistan matches again. But not at the cost of compromising my beloved India. We must be strong. We must not think about selfishly indulging our desire to see these passionate cricket matches resumed. There is a greater moral cause at stake.
Ashok Karanth: Just like Bedi had mentioned in the article, Thaw is On, why the fuss?, I, and I am sure countless others, did not even bat an eyelid when this came up on Rediff. Business as usual, so why bother? But now that you have reopened this topic - I started thinking about whether the Guv'ment did the right thing.
Surprise, surprise, my vote goes to Messrs Verma and coterie - I think they took the right decision - only if we choose to ignore their clumsy, evasive, flip-flop justifications for the same. Here's my take on why India should not resume bilateral cricketing ties with Pakistan.
a) Sports cannot be isolated from real life -
I know this has been beaten to death and more - but it does not dilute even an iota of truth in this sentence. Our cricketers/hockey players can't go and play a "harmless" game when the mood of (nearly) the entire nation on either side is one of pure, unadulterated hatred. The situation is worse then in 1980, at the peak of the Cold War - when the US refused to go to Moscow for the Olympics, no less, or in 1984, when the USSR returned the compliment.
The least Indian sporting bodies can do is to show solidarity with the nation by refusing to tour a country that overtly and covertly plots to harm us. Forget what Laloo and gang did on their peace-keeping tour - that was to capture media limelight, goodwill, and political mileage with one eye firmly on the upcoming elections, and the other eye on a potential Nobel Peace Prize (or some such honour) for AB Vajpayee. Time for sports to raise above politics - and to take a stand to side with the mood of the nation.
b) Very little cricketing sense -
Ok, so all of you hated Reason (a) - and think that sports and politics should not mix - and they should go to "help foster better relations" between two nations and stuff like that. Just like Junoon, the Pakistani rock band helped India and Pakistan to come that much closer to each other. Well, well, well - you live in a different world than I do.
How about some cricketing reasons? India U-19 has very little to gain from touring Pakistan from a cricketing standpoint. Firstly, the pitches they will play on will be similar to Indian pitches - so no learning there. Also, the players in the Pakistan team will be more or less similar to countless other first class players in India - ok, some maybe a yard or three quicker in pace.
If India U-19 does have to travel (and I am all for that), they are much better off travelling to countries like England, South Africa, and shudder, Australia. Now, isn't this where the senior team is having all the difficulties in winning? Isn't the U-19 team the ideal break-in for hopefuls to get into the reckoning for a senior berth? Now where should they be playing and honing their skills? On the dust bowls of Karachi, or the rock- hard tops of Perth? QED!
c) Save their souls -
Compared to the kind of reception any touring Indian team will get in Pakistan, the New Zealanders (even with their team hotel bombed) can feel downright lucky. Stones, chappals, bottles, firecrackers - these are commonplace on Pakistani grounds - and in a surcharged atmosphere, these things somehow find a way to land on Indian players. Not to mention the A to Z category security wherever the team moves. The U-19s are better off playing tennis ball cricket in the gully - rather then going to cricketing hell.
Please note - this decision is valid only for bilateral tours - the multi-team series like World Cup etc, especially staged on neutral (no, that discounts Sharjah) territory is still on. The reason why these should stay is because the repurcussions of canceling a tour like this is much wider - and will lead to a great loss of face for India in the global community. Given Pakistan's well-oiled PR machinery, they will project any such major event cancellation as a huge insult to cricket, and that India is the evil-headed monster seeking global dominance etc.
So, let the politicians do their job - like it our lump it - they are all we have. Let's all hope that relations between the countries improves soon. But until that happens, Indian Cricket can definitely do without playing Pakistan in Pakistan. After all, they need it more than we do. Let's move on with life.
Your Responses: Part Three
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