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Pakistan has only itself to blame for stopping of India-Pakistan cricket matches
Islamabad: India has unequivocally stated on several occasions that Team India would not entertain an India-Pakistan match on Pakistani territory, no matter how much the country pleads, provokes or even threatens. If talks and terror cannot go hand in hand, does Pakistan really think cricket will happen?
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has threatened to boycott the 2023 Cricket World Cup slated to be held in India in October and November if the Indian cricket team doesn't visit them for the Asia Cup in September. A desperate Pakistan cricket board has also attempted to spin a narrative painting themselves as the victim, implying that India, the richest cricketing board globally, is wielding its monetary might by unjustly depriving the country of a level-playing field.
This allegation has been levelled despite a transparent administrative system in place with International Cricket Council and the ICC having the exclusive authority to make decisions.
Chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board, Najam Sethi, actually tried to blame everything on India for not bothering if Pakistan actually boycotted the cricket World Cup 2023, "The India-Pakistan game is the biggest game in town. It's bigger than Australia v England, it's bigger than India v Australia. How can we jeopardize that by stubbornness? Without reason, without explanation, India not coming to Pakistan".
This statement from the PCB chairman was devoid of both facts and reason. Firstly, India has, on several occasions, said that it is Pakistan's unrelenting support of terrorism that compelled India to sever almost all trade, and culture and have minimum diplomatic ties with Pakistan. Secondly, why would other teams who are travelling to Pakistan after a long absence perceive Pakistan as dangerous, if Islamabad's agendas were directed at India alone?
Some say that this statement is an example of Pakistan's textbook tactics of attempting to score brownie points with the international community. Others believe that a cash-strapped Pakistani cricket board is attempting to secure a bailout, something the country is all too familiar with.
There are also reports that Pakistan is set to lose an additional three million dollars if India decides to not travel for the Asia Cup.
On top of all, however, is the news that the Asian Cricket Council- the regional administrative body, is exploring the possibility of shifting the tournament to another country.
The Asian cricket council could also shift the Asia Cup to another country because of the escalating turbulence in Pakistani politics, which according to many, may pose significant security challenges.
Kirti Azad the Former Indian Cricketer during an interview with ANI said that " Well Pakistan is a lost cause, when the Sri Lankan team had gone, there was bombing in the airport and then again at the stadium. Although we had a team from England going there and playing a series, but then there definitely is (terrorism problem).
Look at the turmoil that's happening at the moment because of Imran Khan, so there is lots of uncertainty, and hence Pakistan is in terrible (condition), is in shambles the entire country is bankrupt, leave around talking about the Pakistan Cricket Board".
Instead of blaming others, in particular, India, as is their pattern, Pakistan must be introspective and acknowledge that the current situation is the direct consequence of Pakistan's prolonged policy of providing platforms to terrorism.
It wasn't long back that Pakistan had to wait for over a decade to host a test match. After a visiting Sri Lankan Cricket team was attacked by Pak-born terrorists in 2009. The entire cricketing world was naturally extremely apprehensive and countries refrained from travelling to Pakistan until 2019.
While commenting on the possibilities of the betterment of sports relations between both countries and India going to Pakistan for a match said that "People said that, if we have people-to-people contact, if we have exchanges, if we have cricket matches, things will change, but it hasn't. So it has to be the military establishment of Pakistan, who will have to take a call and decide, that you will have to stop terror, we don't need Pakistan, Pakistan needs us".
Pakistan, however, has not learned from past mistakes. The country is still one of the most unsafe places in the world to organize an international event. There seems to always be a number of incidents that continually undermine public safety in Pakistan.
With Pakistan's track record, how could an Indian team feel secure enough to venture into Pakistani territory? Indian Foreign Minister, Jaishankar, had categorically said during the recent SCO summit that India cannot establish a relationship with those who support terrorism.
During the SCO summit held in India where the foreign ministers of member countries were present including Bilawal Bhutto the foreign minister of Pakistan said that, "Victims of terrorism do not sit together with perpetrators of terrorism to discuss terrorism. Victims of terrorism defend themselves, counter acts of terrorism, they call it out, they de-legitimatize it and that's exactly what is happening".
Cricket is more than just a game in India. It is India's national obsession and an immense source of pride. Cricket has a profound sociocultural, political and financial impact on over a billion Indians, on Indian soil and abroad.
Cricket in India holds a status akin to religion. There was a time when an India-Pak cricket match would be cherished by every cricket enthusiast in the country, and by observers world over.
Pakistani-backed terror incidents have occurred for a long time. However, India is no longer willing to overlook Pakistani-backed attacks in the name of sport.
Harbhajan Singh yet another Former Indian Cricketer commented on Pakistan's empty threats on the issue and said that " Team India shouldn't go there. If they want to come, come and if they don't want to come (Pakistan cricket team), we don't care. Maybe Pakistan cricket needs India but we can run without them".
When evaluating India's decision, be it from an ethical standpoint, through the considerations of public sentiment and national security or simply assessing its symbolic significance, a resolute and unambiguous 'NO' has been and should be the only response.
All Pakistan is left to stare at in this situation is yet another beatdown...this time involving more than just their cricket board. (ANI)