Cricket is more than a game in India and Pakistan

Written by: By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee
Published: Friday, January 22, 2010, 18:06 [IST]
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Cricket is more than a game

Although sports should be battle between two teams, it at times serves as an instrument of diplomacy. In 2004 when Indian team toured Pakistan then Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee had famously said to Sourav Ganguly and his men 'Jeet Lo Dil.' India was making a full tour to Pakistan after a gap of more than 15 years and both the countries wanted to sort out some differences through sports. Cricket being followed like a religion in both the countries was a perfect platform to ease out the tension between the two countries.

A lot of water has flown down the Ganga and the Indus since then and both the countries find themselves locked in a diplomatic battle since 26/11. Sports, art, culture and trade have been the biggest victims of the tension between the two sub-continental powers. The latest bone of contention between the two countries has been the snubbing of the Pakistani players during the recent IPL auction. None of the 11 Pakistani players available for auction were hired by any of the eight teams.

Pakistani players as well as the establishment on it's part is accusing India of conspiring against cricketers from Pakistan. They have now threatened to cut all sporting ties with India citing the humiliation that India has meted out to their players. Cricketer turned politician Imran Khan wants the PCB to take up the issue with the International Cricket Council. Former Pakistan cricket captain Zaheer Abbas suggested that the national hockey team should be withdrawn from the World Cup.

The Indian government on it's part denies involvement in the auction process for the IPL. Sports Minister MS Gill said “IPL is not only a cricket league but it is also a commercial enterprise and the government of India and the sports ministry has nothing to do with them." Echoing him External Affairs Minister SM Krishna said "Government has nothing to do with IPL, on selection of players and various exercises that are connected with it. So, Pakistan will have to draw a line between where Government of India is connected and where Government of India is an actor," he said.

Indian Premier League commissioner Lalit Modi on rejected allegations that Pakistani players were deliberately snubbed. He said that media reports on the issue were biased as nobody questioned the fact that players from countries like Australia, Canada and Zimbabwe not being picked in the auction. Team owners were also outraged by the allegations with Rajasthan Royals owner Shilpa Shetty saying that they did not owe any explanation to anybody.

This incident is threatening to jeopardize the entire sporting ties between India and Pakistan which not good for both the sides. Sports and culture have time and again eased out the tension between the tow countries and with sports becoming the bone of contention it remains to be seen what eases out the tension between India and Pakistan.

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