Indo-Pak Cricket Diplomacy: An Introspection
By Ravishankar Panda
Indo-Pakistan tour was under pipeline since last two-three years. Last Indo-Pak contest was held in 1989. After that the political differences and Kargil war between two countries ruined not only the cricketing relations of the Asian subcontinent giants but also the trade relations, transport and communication. In late 2003, under USA's pressure the leaders of both the country started to wilt and talks of better relationship started in bits and pieces. The leaders of both the countries were looking for their own interests. In India, Atal and BJP were looking for better image in the forthcoming elections as initiator of peace process. Pervez was looking for better image of his rule and Pakistan, as his country is not considered as a safe place to visit. Moreover, he wanted to distract people from two attacks that took place on his convoy. At the same time Pakistan Cricket Board was in dire state financially as most of the countries avoided playing in Pakistan due to security reasons especially after the bomb blast incident during New Zealand tour of Pakistan in May 2002. In such a background politicians made the cricket, the most popular sport of both the states, a pawn and the forbearer of peace.
The green signal
After yes and no dilemma in various political and social lobbies, finally in the second week of February, BCCI got the green signal from the Prime Minister Atlas Bihar Vampire. Prior to the start of tour there were rumours like whether the tour will happen, whether all the players will go or not because of security concerns, whether India will buckle down under psychological pressure, etc. So, at last the evening before the departure of team, Prime Minister said to the team "Don't just win the games. Win the hearts of the people as well."
Initially PCB has made the tour schedule of three test matches and after that five one-day matches. But the board was...