Can a Pakistan India match really help us be friends?
PM Singh's semi-final invitation to Gilani and Zardari may be a good gesture, but will not help ties
Pakistan and India have never had smooth diplomatic ties and are obviously insecure about each other; their rivalry is so intense that it has brought them to the brink of nuclear armament.
So what can a game of cricket do for two countries that are not friends? Not much.
The Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has invited President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani to watch the Pakistan versus India showdown on March 30in Mohali, India.
The arch-rivals have not played each other in India since the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai and the outcome will surely be construed as a diplomatic victory.
The frustrations that both sides have developed towards each other ever since they separated in 1947 are often vented through cricket matches. It’s not just a game. The untimely death of a match-predicting parrot who predicted Pakistan’s victory is just a recent example of what a Pakistan India clash means.
This match will help India generate cash by selling tickets, issue around 5,000 visas to Pakistanis and create economic activity for hotels but apart from this, I don’t think it can help diplomatic ties. I highly doubt that Mr Singh and Mr Gilani will discuss human rights violations in Kashmir on the pitch.
Security concerns for Pakistani cricketers and visiting fans remain very real ahead of the match on Wednesday. The fact that cricket fans on both sides celebrate each other’s defeat with no less happiness than they cheer their triumphs gives an impression that another Pakistan India war will take place in Mohali on the 30th.
I wonder what it was that led Shahid Afridi to fantasise about Pak-India relations improving as a result of this match. Both countries would have to play cricket almost every day before they can sit down and tackle issues crucial to the security and survival of their people.