ISSN 2330-717X

The Need To Keep Cricket And Politics Apart – OpEd

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When an enemy is deflated and loses its competence in fighting conventional warfare in the battlegrounds, it starts finding soft targets and outbursts its desperation against its contender in the sports fields. After seven decades of enmity and countless face-offs, finally, India has lost its nerves and started embattling the sports activities in Pakistan.

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A country several times larger than its opponent is so fraught and baffled that it has finally decided to politicize the game which is equally loved in both India and Pakistan intensely. 

Love for cricket is one common factor supposed to bring both countries closer by reducing the hatred and disseminating a healthy atmosphere for the diplomatic activities to start over. 

Unfortunately, by its efforts to keep Pakistan away from world cricket, India has besieged the only door left open for the normalization of ties, the “Cricket Diplomacy”.

It all started on 3 March 2009, when India targeted the Sri Lankan Cricket team through its terror proxies near Gaddafi Stadium Lahore. 12 gunmen hit into the convoy of the Sri Lankan team killing at least six police officials and two civilians. Six Sri Lankan cricketers also got injured in that terror episode.

The terror incident closed all the doors of international cricket for Pakistan. International teams stopped coming to Pakistan fearing terror threats and a nation crazy for the game was left abandoned with its grounds dead. India got a temporary success in its repugnant designs of isolating Pakistan in the cricketing world.

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To resuscitate international cricket in Pakistan, both the armed forces and the civilian community of the country strived really hard and managed to decimate terrorism from its roots, serenity started to prevail in the country after the India-terror nexus was identified and wrecked by the country’s military. It was high time to resurrect sports activities in Pakistan and bring cricket back to its home.

With the huge success of the Pakistan Super League, international teams started visiting Pakistan at regular intervals. Practically international cricket was revived. That was a moment of jubilation for Pakistan and for the fans of the game around the world. But there was someone really dejected and busy conspiring to disrupt sports activities again in Pakistan.

With its irk quite perceptible, it has targeted cricket through its deliberate and systematized propaganda warfare machinery. Failing to conceal its reprehensible plots for a long time, it had planned to sabotage all the gains that Pakistan had made in the revival of international cricket in the county, India decided to display it’s another illicit tactic, and this time the target was New Zealand cricket team on a tour to Pakistan.

In the last quarter of 2021, two major international cricket teams New Zealand and England exhibited a willingness to visit Pakistan for bilateral series against the host nation. New Zealand visited Pakistan in Sep 2021 but scrapped its visit just hours before the start of the opening match citing a security threat to its team without disclosing further details.

The incident was not less than a shock for cricket lovers and a massive blow for Pakistan that was anticipating the return of full-scale international cricket to the country. Later on, the investigations into the matter revealed that the threatening email to the New Zealand team was sent from India using a VPN showing location of the Singapore.

Subsequently, England also called off its tour to Pakistan all of a sudden. The entire cricket fraternity was disappointed by the decision of the English Cricket Board. Pakistan was not expecting this at least from England as after all, it was Pakistan that visited England during the pandemic havoc when no international team was assenting to visit England.

Currently, the Australian Cricket team is on a lengthy visit to Pakistan. The visit is very historic and crucial as the Australian team is visiting Pakistan after 24 long years. This visit would actually prove to be an exordium to start regular international cricket in the country. India again couldn’t digest this development and success of the Pakistan Cricket Board and tried to revise the old trick, sending an upsetting email to one of the Australian cricketer’s wife.

Just ahead of the Australian Cricket Team’s Pakistan visit, the wife of Ashton Agar an Australian all-rounder received a threatening email in which she was cautioned not to visit Pakistan, else, her children would lose their father as the snipers of TTP are ready to blow his head off. The email was reported to the officials of both cricket boards.

The probe of the email confirmed that it was not a credible warning and was generated from India. The handle of the Instagram used to send that intimidating email was under the name of Jyoti Sharma, which clearly indicates that India frantically wanted to ruin the Pak-Australia cricket series like it did with the New Zealand tour. However, the Australian cricket team didn’t bother to ponder upon that threat and continued their tour as Australian vice-captain of the test team Steve Smith has stated, “we are feeling incredibly safe in Pakistan”.

In the wake of continuous Indian pugnacious attitude towards the game, International Cricket Council (ICC) must intervene in the matter as one of its members is openly politicizing the game with its grimy mindset. India should be asked to clarify its position and uncover those hidden elements that are not only trying to incapacitate Pakistan’s efforts to revive international cricket on its grounds but also damaging the spirit of the game by tarnishing it through notorious Disinformation Warfare Strategies.

The writer is an Islamabad-based freelance journalist and security analyst with a wide focus on regional affairs. He can be reached at [email protected]

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