'Cricket diplomacy' as India play Pakistan

Published: March 30, 2011
Pakistan's Prime Minister, Yousaf Raza Gillani (L),  and India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh wave to spectators before the start of the World Cup Semi-Final match between India and Pakistan at the Punjab Cricket Association Stadium, in Mohali, India March 30, 2011. PHOTO: REUTERS

Pakistan's Prime Minister, Yousaf Raza Gillani (L), and India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh wave to spectators before the start of the World Cup Semi-Final match between India and Pakistan at the Punjab Cricket Association Stadium, in Mohali, India March 30, 2011. PHOTO: REUTERS

MOHALI: The prime ministers of nuclear-armed foes India and Pakistan stood side by side on Wednesday at a World Cup cricket match and clapped to each other’s national anthems in a symbolic gesture aimed at rebuilding ties shattered by the 2008 Mumbai attacks.

The leaders shook hands with the two teams in the northern Indian town of Mohali at a semi-final match between the South Asian neighbours that have gone to war three times since Independence in 1947.

Such is the fervour surrounding cricket in the two countries that scores of Pakistanis crossed one of the world’s most militarised borders to travel to the stadium while millions of Indians have taken the day off work to watch the game.

“Enjoy Cricket, It’s Not War!” was the front page splash of India’s Mail Today newspaper.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had invited his counterpart Yousaf Raza Gilani to watch the game and discuss reviving a peace process, although “cricket diplomacy” will offer more gestures than  breakthroughs in a conflict that has lasted for more than 60 years.

In a major confidence-building measure ahead of the match, Islamabad agreed on Tuesday to let Indian investigators travel to Pakistan to probe the Mumbai attacks after a meeting of the countries’ respective home secretaries.

“As far as our relations are concerned, I’m happy our talks have resumed and interior (home) secretaries’ talks were held in a positive manner,” Gilani said.

“Dr. Manmohan Singh is very good politician. His approach is very positive and he wants to do something for peace and prosperity of this region so we both are committed that the environment should improve and we could serve people.”

For Prime Minister Singh, the match may be a way of regaining the policy initiative after his government has been battered by months of corruption scandals that could dent the ruling Congress party’s chances in upcoming state elections.

Both sides will hope to ride a wave of goodwill ahead of talks between their foreign ministers in July, but some were sceptical about “cricket diplomacy “, which was tried as long ago as far back as 1987, without bringing lasting peace.

“It facilitates resolution, it doesn’t lead to resolution,” former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf told the Indian news channel Times Now. “Cricket diplomacy doesn’t mean that you can resolve disputes just because you attended a match together.”

Wednesday’s game pitted India’s world-class players, including Sachin Tendulkar, against a Pakistani side that has looked in devastating form.

There was a sea of Indian fans’ blue and red turbans in Mohali and the neighbouring city of Chandigarh, which were patrolled by the local Punjab police, with some 1,500 policemen being deployed around the team hotel alone.

Police conducted surprise midnight checks on hotels near the stadium to verify the identity of guests.

Thousands who had travelled to Mohali to queue for tickets were left disappointed, but at dusk on Tuesday some die-hards decided to wait in line even after organisers had hung up the “sold out” sign. Some Indians reportedly decided to give up their tickets in a goodwill gesture to Pakistani fans.


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Reader Comments (18)

  • Hedgefunder
    Mar 30, 2011 - 4:32PM

    Lets all of us hope that it works this time, as patience is running out from indian stand point.Recommend

  • Hedgefunder
    Mar 30, 2011 - 4:34PM

    There is more substance required from all this symbolism !!!Recommend

  • Nasir Jamal
    Mar 30, 2011 - 5:39PM

    Lets win first. Diplomacy and other nonsense can be taken care of later on.Recommend

  • Mar 30, 2011 - 5:49PM

    Diplomatic Cricket is not the matter what will be next going on… Pakistan should b aware from India… i hope we will win the match… and we will prove that we are sign of peace and tolerance… InshallahRecommend

  • Saeed Mahmood Aslam
    Mar 30, 2011 - 7:13PM


  • Hedgefunder
    Mar 30, 2011 - 7:39PM

    Winning a cricket match does not show any sign of peace and tolerance!! its shows a better team on the field won!! period.
    So please don’t patronise ! its currently 84 for 2, chasing target of 261.Recommend

  • Sad...!!!!
    Mar 30, 2011 - 8:47PM

    Cricket Diplomacy…..means= Strong team like Pakistan losing against India…….!!!!!Recommend

  • kailash sethy
    Mar 30, 2011 - 9:00PM

    I sincerely hope that our brothers in Pakistan feel good about themelvess and others. Let justice be done to 26/11 an Dawood Ibrahim. And if there is any issue for Pakistan by India, I am sure India will help Pakistan resolving it. We seriously need to move forward and think about progress of sub-continent an live happily. Unless Dawood is neutralized and 26/11 resolved, I don’t see much hope for long term peace. Recommend

  • Hedgefunder
    Mar 30, 2011 - 10:57PM

    There was nothing strong about pakistan today, even my 12 yr old could see that !!!
    So there is the outcome ! now what?? shall we get back to real business of resolving the outstanding issues?? Or are we going back to sulk and need to refer this to all those not present??Recommend

  • Avanti
    Mar 30, 2011 - 11:46PM

    Now comes time to blame India for fixing the match. It’s always someone else doing the bad things for Pakistan.Recommend

  • Asad Durrani
    Mar 30, 2011 - 11:59PM

    I am not interested what your 12 years can do but I know this that until the core issues are resolved, There will be no permanent Long-term relationship. If Indian Patience is running out then Go find some patience or go ahead and attack. Who are you threatening. We will see what remains of you after that. Good Luck. Idiots like you are the real cause of trouble . Don’t threaten , Go ahead and do what You have on mind and we will see what we can do to bring your Patience back..Recommend

  • Hedgefunder
    Mar 31, 2011 - 12:52AM

    @Asad Durrani:
    I am sure that my 12 yrs old is of no interest to you !! The core issues you are talking about are the plenty !! where do the govt of India start with Pakistan!!! I suggest you go and take a look in the mirror, first as a fellow human being without considerations of race, culture, caste or religion.
    Where did you get the idea that this is a threat !! Perhaps its a figment of your imagination!!! I do not recall using any such words as ” Threats ” so , i assume that the answer to this lies at your end!!!
    It’s not in any parties interest to have the stand off situation, as i am sure you have the intellingence to appreciate this fact !!!
    Lastly please do not insult any 12 yrs old child, as they are the future.
    P.S. Love to know your mensa test result ! for you to call me idiot! I am willing to provide mine ! if you obliged to the same!!!
    Thanks for your irrelevant remarks and comment.Recommend

  • ishaq
    Mar 31, 2011 - 1:14AM

    This was a Cricket Drama rather than Cricket DiplomacyRecommend

  • G. Din
    Mar 31, 2011 - 1:35AM

    @Asad Durrani:
    Where is the threat in Hedgefunder’s post? The horns have come out again from your temples and the canines have burst forth from your mouth. You are a sore loser, Durrani!Recommend

  • Porki
    Mar 31, 2011 - 1:51AM

    @Asad Durrani:
    You mean sending more terrorist in India and stabbing in back again. Yeah!!! you guys are really good at that. Recommend

  • LOL
    Mar 31, 2011 - 2:42AM

    @ Asad – that’s an easy comment to make but one could say the same. “There will be no permanent long-term relationship if Pakistan can’t stop supporting terrorists.”

    It’s in all of our interests to work together but how long do you expect India to keep waiting and holding out its hand of friendship. Pakistan has to show that it is credible and India should believe it otherwise this whole process goes no where.

    Trade will be low, we’ll continue to both waste money on military resources instead of education and infrastructure, and we’ll all suffer.

    India has been patient. Can Pakistan say “let’s do business together, we don’t have to be best friends but being enemies off the cricket pitch does none of us any good”?Recommend

  • sceptic ali
    Mar 31, 2011 - 6:27AM

    mr.asad durran- i am a kashmiri muslim from india. while a majority of kashmir’s sunni muslim population would definitely vote for an independent kashmir, almost none will vote for pakistan, and some – liberal muslims like myself – will throw in their lot with india.
    my rant over – pray tell, what “core issues” are you referring to? hope it’s not kashmir? if it is, do note my opening salvo and also note that thanks to the internet, we kashmiris are familiar with the plight of non-punjabi and non-sindhi minority in pakistan and we have no intention of jumping from the frying pan into the fire. as i mentioned, a few of us even prefer the frying pan.

    ps. the link below is to an article from the guardian which talks about the horrific war unleashed by your state against the baloch. what the indian security forces did in kashmir pales in comparison to what the pak state is doing in balochistan.


  • Bilal Khalid
    Mar 31, 2011 - 4:34PM

    We should show sport man spirit. Its just a match and the team which will plays better at that day, will win the match, india played better that pakistan, so it won.Recommend

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