Amn Ka Chakka, a Loose Ball or a Bouncer?By amicus • Mar 26th, 2011 • Category: Features • No Responses In 1996, India and Pakistan sent joint cricket “friendship” teams to Sri Lanka during the World Cup the three nations were then jointly hosting, after Australia and the West Indies refused to tour Sri Lanka after a Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) bomb attack in Colombo. Top Indian and Pakistani cricket stars played together in Sri Lanka to express solidarity with the island nation.
Following the November 26 terrorist attacks in Mumbai, it was Sri Lankan solidarity for Pakistan that brought its ill-fated team to Lahore, after India meanly canceled its tour as apparent payback for the Mumbai attacks.
“Match abandoned due to terror attacks,” announced the Google News India home page of the second five-day match in Lahore between Sri Lanka and Pakistan, in the live updates of matches that Google provides for cricket-crazy Indian fans. Such a match-ending line has never been seen in the 120-year recorded history of the game.
Cricket was already a strong component in sub-continental diplomacy, both to express coldness and as an ice-breaker in relations. An Indian cricket team toured Pakistan in 1977, to mark the resumption of warmer diplomatic ties between the two countries after the 1971 war that led to the creation of Bangladesh.
Former Pakistan president and late military dictator Zia ul-Haq was an ardent cricket fan, as have been his successor chiefs of the Pakistan army, some of whom have headed the Pakistan cricket board, recently former Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf.
In 1987, Zia ul-Haq, whose term marked the resumption of India-Pakistan tensions over disputed Kashmir, went to India almost uninvited to see a cricket match in Jaipur, in what he hoped would be an attempt to cool rising tempers in India over Pakistan’s alleged involvement in terrorist violence in the restive region.
In 1996, India and Pakistan sent joint cricket “friendship” teams to Sri Lanka during the World Cup the three nations were then jointly hosting, after Australia and the West Indies refused to tour Sri Lanka after a Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) bomb attack in Colombo. Top Indian and Pakistani cricket stars played together in Sri Lanka to express solidarity with the island nation.
The 1999 war between India and Pakistan, the worst military confrontation between the two countries since 1971, happened during the cricket World Cup in England in which both nations were participating.
A 2003 Indian tour of Pakistan led to unprecedented warmth between the two neighboring nations, a people-to-people contact.
In 2004, the Indian cricket team went to Pakistan for the first full tour after more than a decade. It was termed as the Friendship series.
In 2005, Musharraf came to see a cricket match in New Delhi, the city of his birth, to again thaw relations between the two nations.
In identical letters to President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani, Singh said he proposed to watch the Indo-Pak World Cup semi-final and “it gives me a great pleasure” to invite them to watch the match.
“India has always been desirous of friendly relations with Pakistan. Yet, we have been very firm and realistic about what we expect in return. The latest overture is yet another expression of this holistic approach,” Congress spokesperson Manish Tiwary said.
In his editorial in party’s mouthpiece, Saamna, Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray, then wrote that Shahrukh deserves Pakistan’s highest civilian award “Nishaan-e-Pakistan” for supporting Pakistani cricketers’ inclusion in IPL. Sena activists demonstrated outside Shahrukh’s bungalow “Mannat” at Bandra. Suggesting that Shahrukh should go to Pakistan, they displayed a travel ticket for him from Mumbai to Karachi. They also tore down posters of Shahrukh’s new film, “My Name is Khan” and wrote to theater owners asking them not to screen this move. (January 31 2010).
Shiv Sena has a history of trying to disrupt visits by Pakistan’s cricket team to India. Pakistan has not visited India since 2007, the last tour being canceled after a November 2008 terror attack at Mumbai.
A right-wing political party with roots in Mumbai was reported in the domestic media Friday as saying it would decide to see who wins the India vs. Pakistan semifinal at Mohali on wednesday before deciding whether or not to disrupt the marquee match.
India-Pakistan semi-final in Mohali now looks set to be the highpoint of the current cricket World Cup but the possibility of Pakistan going on to play the finals in Mumbai is giving nightmares to the Indian security apparatus.
“Pakistan’s successful run in the ongoing Cricket World Cup has given fresh jitters to India that now anticipates a deluge of visa applications, over and above the 5,000 already processed,” Says Indian Express.
The danger of the fanatical Shiv Sena creating ugly scenes and bringing the city to a halt, also could not be taken lightly, it quoted sources as saying.
“But what bothers the Indian Home Ministry and security agencies is Mumbai as venue, where memories of 26/11 terror attacks are still fresh and the terror threat from the Lashkar-e-Taiba looms large,” the Indian Express said.
“While the Home Ministry is not worried about the semi-finals in Mohali which is close to Attari-Wagah border, and arrangements can be made for fans to come through the border point at Wagah via special buses, Mumbai has posed a real challenge,” according to the Express.
“The Home Ministry in consultation with the Ministry of External Affairs has decided that the 45-day application period required would be waived off, but has dismissed the suggestion from Islamabad that fans be allowed to reach Mumbai by Samjhauta Express train via Atari border.”
A government source told the Express that there were “other easier ways of reaching Mumbai, say by flight or by the sea”.
As enough flights cannot be arranged and possibility of getting a special trainload from Attari has been ruled out, a short ship voyage from Karachi to Mumbai is being seen as a possibility, the report said.
According to Foreign Office, the invitation from Indian Prime Minister to the President and the Prime Minister was received on Friday evening. Pakistan government’s response to Indian PM’s invitation to Mohali is yet to come. However, Indians are optimistic that in all likelihood, one of the Pakistani leaders will agree to watch the match with Mr. Singh. Besides watching an exciting contest, leaders of the two nations will have a unique opportunity to iron out their differences.
Next couple of days will tell Manmohanji’s Cricket offensive is Amn Ka Chakka, a loose ball or a Bouncer.
In the meanwhile let’s enjoy cricket, leaving the Cricket diplomacy to politicians. Best wishes for Pakistan team in Mohali and Mumbai.