Culture, peace and Manmohan Singh

Published: March 28, 2011
The writer is professor of political science at LUMS

The writer is professor of political science at LUMS

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has made a remarkable friendly gesture in inviting our president and prime minister to watch the Pakistan-India semi-final with him in Mohali. Overnight, the mood of the media and the people, at least in Pakistan, has turned positive towards India. There is as much talk about the players, the game and how to win the match, as there is talk about why India-Pakistan are ‘distant neighbours’, to use the title of a book by Kuldip Nayyar.

It is not the lack of subjects or issues that are important to Pakistan, it’s the people and the region that we are going to be transfixed to at the match and our relations with India over the coming days and weeks. It is the centrality of this relation, both in the positive and negative sense, that has triggered so much interest. A purist sports lover may enjoy the match, regardless of the colour of kits and nationality of the teams. But that is not the case in the modern-day world of sports, let alone the game between India and Pakistan.

What are sports competitions all about? Victory, defeat or experiencing life through a different window? Having watched sports for decades, I cannot make up my mind whether the joy is over the win of ‘my’ team, or over the loss of ‘yours’.

True, it is all about competition and one has to win on the expense of the other. Since there are so many issues that we have to deal with in our
complex world, the thrill of victory and agony of defeat could be left to the grounds where the games are played.

For me, the Mohali semi-final has tremendous symbolic value, beyond the game itself, in bringing together the teams, the fans, the billion-plus people, the top leadership of the two countries and cricket fans all over the world — watching the showdown together from different locations.

The game of cricket has deep roots in the subcontinent as a cultural tradition. It is as local now as it is English in its origin — a sign of cultural globalisation. There are many other common cultural streams between India and Pakistan — languages, literature, music, religious traditions, and thousands of years of togetherness under local rulers and competing empires.

With so much in common, cultural streams remain unexplored and an untried agent of change. Fear, insecurity and politics have captured the centre stage. The moment we turn to culture, we will see each other in a different light — as humans and friends, desiring to meet each other.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 28th, 2011.

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Reader Comments (14)

  • A R Khan, Wisconsin
    Mar 28, 2011 - 12:51AM

    Excellent article, sir. The very last two paras are something to seriously think about… Recommend

  • Arindom
    Mar 28, 2011 - 1:03AM

    Without the Generals of Pakistan on board all this hype is futile…

    The Generals are not playing cricket at this moment – ice-hockey is more like it…Recommend

  • John
    Mar 28, 2011 - 2:13AM

    “In Pan Mixia, the gene and genotypic frequencies remain constant generation after generation in the absence of migration, mutation or selection”: India and Pakistan are no exception and that is what we see now .

    Go team PAK .Recommend

  • Vicram Singh
    Mar 28, 2011 - 3:43AM

    The author is a known India baiter. Unfortunately he reads too much into cricket diplomacy. Someone should remind him that Zia-ul-Haq had visited India years ago, and had watched a match in Jaipur. What we got after that was more troubles in Kashmir and Punjab.Recommend

  • Ahmed
    Mar 28, 2011 - 8:41AM

    I do know that we used to Indians once and share thousands of years of history with them. But, after the creation of Pakistan, we want our culture to be different. Heck, that is why we created Pakistan!! We want to be like the Afghanis, Arabs, and other Islamic middle-easternern brothers. We want to create a new culture that is not Indian. Heck, that is why even America now calls us part of Af-Pak that I am very proud of.Recommend

  • ani
    Mar 28, 2011 - 9:40AM

    India would be happy if you were human and friends with yourself (i.e. all your people) first and foremost. Once you are, rest will follow. First learn to respect yourself and yours. I hope it is not a conspiracy by Indians, Americans and Jews that is keeping you from doing that. Recommend

  • Inayat
    Mar 28, 2011 - 1:27PM

    True, there are number of things that are common in Pak-India. Both the countries should come forward and use common characteristics as a base for strengthening their resumed relations.This will be fruitful for both. We hope present positive gestures will be proved as a permanent ones. Recommend

  • Rana Asghar
    Mar 28, 2011 - 4:32PM

    Ahmed, You are living in Cuckoo World. Read about Culture, if you can read. Hatred for India is your culture, am I right?Recommend

  • sabk..
    Mar 28, 2011 - 4:36PM

    salam………………….Fear, insecurity and politics have captured the centre stage. The moment we turn to culture, we will see each other in a different light ………………very true………..excellent work…salam pakistanRecommend

  • Pakistan Khan
    Mar 28, 2011 - 4:41PM

    The generals are real decision makers in our country. Without their consent we cannot expect any real advancement in Indo-Pak relations. Infact Army is ruling Pakistan by creating India Phobia,so we should not be so much excited.Recommend

  • akash
    Mar 28, 2011 - 5:09PM

    this will achieve nothing..and rightly so.. untill pakistan changes..Recommend

  • Zoro
    Mar 28, 2011 - 5:38PM

    Follow what people in Egypt and Libiya are doing … Thats what is peoples power.. All the mighty and high are running helter shelter …But if you have to do this … You have to have Democracy… so that it is done in a humane way.. Increase the power of your Institutions and not Generals… there lies the secret in gaining what peoples wishes are ..

    And now dont say its a RAW / CIA / MOSSAD conspiracy to ask people to become powerful than the Generals..Recommend

  • Ali
    Mar 28, 2011 - 10:32PM

    You know in reality, Pakistanis adn Indians dont really care about the governemnts, we get on, this can be seend abroad, and now even within Pakistan and India with modern technology, the people are progressing and learning from each other without the govt’s… it is this people to people contact that will change the relationship, as with relationships all over the world the govt’s arte behind… the fact is, we are in an increasingly globalised world and we south asians know that and are slowly but surely working with each otehr to improve our lives… i hope the govt’s catch up soon! Recommend

  • Rao Akhtar
    Mar 29, 2011 - 3:10PM

    Vicram Singh, you knwo better what General Zia said to Mrs Gandhi, who had planned to destroy Pak nuclear reactor in collaborating with Israel

    Zia said, (if you do not have information) ” you should know that we have the same toy ( bomb) ” Vicram, enjoy this match do not remind us bitter history made by you Indian.Recommend

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