Signs of thaw

For cricket fans, even the smallest hint of détente in Pakistan-India relations is good news

Editorial March 29, 2017
Shaharyar Khan. PHOTO: AFP

For cricket fans, even the smallest hint of détente in Pakistan-India relations is good news. Because that would open up the tantalising possibility of the two traditional rivals squaring off on the cricket pitch — a spectacle that has often left the world breathless. On Wednesday, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) sent a letter to the home ministry, asking for clearance to play a bilateral Test, ODI and T20I series against Pakistan in Dubai later this year. This is only the second time in two years that the Indian cricket board has made such a request. The last time a series was suggested between Pakistan and India, authorities in New Delhi nixed the same, citing rising tensions with their neighbour.

At the ICC meeting in February 2017, Pakistan cricket authorities threw up the possibility of a bilateral series while prodding their Indian counterparts on the status of the Future Tours and Programme agreement that the two countries signed in 2014.

Pakistan and India haven’t played a one-on-one Test series since 2012. India’s news media outlets have reported that the home ministry would probably respond to the BCCI request sometime next month. If it is affirmative, it would evoke howls of delight from cricket lovers and ambassadors of the game. Strangely enough, Pakistan has not received any word about the bilateral series, according to PCB Chairman Shaharyar Khan. Apparently, clearance would also be needed from Islamabad if the move is greenlighted by India.

Many current and former cricketers of Pakistan have long supported the contention that politics should not be mixed with sports. Such an argument appears sound on all fronts. Both nations have a passion for cricket. And the game itself can be a great talking point, as it would bring people in the two countries on a platform from where they could at least hear, if not understand, each other’s viewpoints. To shut off these possibilities would only widen the distrust.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 30th, 2017.

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