JUBAIL, SAUDI ARABIA: Within hours of the announcement that the Pakistani cricket team will tour India in December for three One-Day Internationals and two Twenty20 matches, the Hindu rightwing hardline party Shiv Sena announced that it would oppose the series and disrupt matches by force if necessary. A few weeks ago, when the Pakistan government announced that it would be releasing an Indian citizen who had been in prison for over two decades, a number of religious parties in Pakistan got active the same evening to protest against his possible release. Pressure was brought to bear on the government not to release him but it did not relent and the man was eventually sent back to India.
There are hate-mongers on both sides of the border who will try to advance their agenda on any pretext — be it a cricket match, release of prisoners, establishment of trade relations, enhancing of educational and cultural interaction and so on. And when they fail to deter people-to-people contact, they attempt to do things like Kargil, bomb the Samjhauta Express, or the terrible Mumbai attacks of 26/11.
The other day Barack Obama put it quite bluntly when he said that both India and Pakistan need to settle their differences on their own; and that the Americans are not going to mediate. The hardliners on both sides need to realise that times have changed and what matters now is the economy and that both countries need to address their own problems, which are many and include issues as basic as provision of quality education, healthcare and other basic amenities at the grassroots level.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 20th, 2012.
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