Thank you for inviting us, India

I want to thank India for overcoming their legitimate anger over the Mumbai atrocity and disappointment with Pakistan.

Zainab Imam November 03, 2012
It's official: the most exciting cricket series of the year will kick off on December 25, when arch-rivals Pakistan and India meet in a Twenty20 International match in Bangalore.

Promptly, and almost expectedly, chief of Shiv Sena, India’s equivalent of Pakistan’s assorted anti-India groups, Bal Thackeray came out with an asinine statement calling the Board of Control for Cricket in India’s invitation to the Pakistan cricket team a matter of “national shame”.

For me, his statement has done little more than set the stage for a series I have craved since Pak-India ties came to an abrupt halt in 2007.

But my worry extends beyond Shiv Sena. Following the Mumbai attack of November 2008, it’s not just the crazies on both sides of the border who have opposed a resumption of Pak-India ties – cricketing and otherwise.

When speculations first surfaced that Pakistan may be touring India, veteran cricketer Sunil Gavaskar – who has always expressed open appreciation for Pakistani talent – had opposed the decision. As a Mumbaiker, he said, he was hurt by the BCCI’s decision to revive India-Pakistan cricket ties despite what he called Pakistan’s non-cooperation in the probe into the Mumbai attacks, which killed 166 people, most of them Indians. Pakistani national Ajmal Kasab has been sentenced to death for his involvement in the attack and is waiting on the Indian president’s decision on his appeal for clemency.

I remember that statement vividly, because as a Pakistani and a cricket fan, it had hurt me. But as a supporter of peace and non-expansionist foreign policy, I agreed with him. And with every Indian citizen who feels that way.

I hang my head in shame.

In such a situation, I wouldn’t be surprised if Pakistani players feel a little more than unwelcome on Indian soil. As a citizen of a country where terrorists from various nationalities seem to feel at home and where they violate territorial sovereignty at will, I can feel the Indians’ pain perhaps with more clarity than they think many Pakistanis can. It is never a good feeling to see the piece of earth from where you derive your identity soaked in the blood of its own people.

This is why, I want to thank India. I want to thank the BCCI and I want to thank every single Indian government official who was involved in making this tour possible. I want to thank them for at least trying to overcome their absolutely legitimate anger over the Mumbai atrocity and their disappointment with Pakistan. I want to thank the Indian cricket team for finally upholding the spirit of cricket.

And, most of all, I want to thank India for taking that first step, that most difficult decision, to tell the terrorists to their face that they refuse to let them hold billions of people hostage to their ideology of hate.

As the newly-appointed Indian external affairs minister Salman Khurshid put it,
“It is a conflict (deadlock over the Mumbai attack) on which there must be delivery of expectations that we have but we don't want the clock to come to a standstill, clock does move forward...”

I have never been one to buy into the ‘it’s a South Asian victory’ view, but in this series, the victor will truly be the two nations who have remained estranged for way too long.

Let the games begin!

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Read more by Zainab here or follow her on twitter @zainabimam 
WRITTEN BY:
Zainab Imam A journalist, on a hiatus to pursue a Masters in Public Policy at The University of Chicago. Gender parity advocate, urban policy enthusiast. She tweets @zainabimam (https://twitter.com/zainabimam) and blogs at gulaabjamun.wordpress.com
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.

COMMENTS (62)

Sohail | 8 years ago | Reply Well, I appreciate the resumption of series b/w Pak-India. But I am not agree with author of he paying so much thanks to India. The Mumbai atrocity is individual act not government policy. To boycott a nation with one individual act is not good response. If you boycott nation with individual acts it mean you supporting the militants and this is the aim of the militants to detract the two countries from closing to each other.
Muhammad A. Tirmazi | 8 years ago | Reply I agree with @Noman Ansari, It's pretty shameful how Pakistan seems to be a state-sponsor of terrorism, especially in India. The so-called "Jihadists" have killed thousands of innocent people on both sides. We really don't deserve their forgiveness, but as Mark Twain said:
Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.
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