Aman ka Chakka! (‘Sixer’ of peace). It is just cricket and not war. It is a welcome move by the Indian PM. Pakistan has rightly accepted the invite and cricket diplomacy may improve bilateral ties…Were some of the headlines in Indian and Pakistani newspapers and TV channels following the announcement of the Indian PMO that Manmohan Singh had invited Pakistani PM and President for watching the India-Pakistan World Cup semi-final at Mohali.
First things first, it is a war, not a game. Secondly, how many such ‘peaceful’ moves will the Indian PMs make, only to be the witness of one terrorist attack after the other in the backdrop and aftermath of such ‘peace’ efforts? Thirdly, give me a break! Can a cricket match really cure the ills of the attack on the Indian parliament, do away with the murders in Mumbai or solve the Kashmir issue!
This is all sugar coated talk by the desperate for new news media and some pseudo intellectuals who think that we live in an unreal world, ‘Bollywood Scripts’ being their reality.
We are a nation of marshmallows who have time and again tried to find solutions to our most grave problems via inviting singers, actors, cricketers, sleazy item girls and what not but have always refrained from hardcore talks and actions to get the perennial problem of infringement of national territory, terrorism and nuclear armament.
Are we naïve enough to think that a cricket match will magically revive bilateral talks to a point that Pakistan will give back the PoK, or stop harbouring the likes of Ajmal Kasab, Maulana Masood Azhar, Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, Syed Salahuddin?
I would really like to believe that the magical voices of Rahet Fateh Ali Khan and Atif Aslam can deafen the sounds and cries of the eight terrorist attacks on Mumbai alone from 1993, when a series of 13 bombs went off. Subsequently, India played cricket with Pakistan in Sharjah on April 22, 1994, wow, what an initiative for peace after thousands were permanently scarred.
Going by the logic that cricket can resume peace, the Sharjah match where India lost would have cured all ills in the tensions of the two countries…But then what about the insurgency in Kashmir in the following years where ISI supplied arms and ammunition to anyone who wanted to fracture the fabric of Indian peace?
We should also invite Mujahideen, LeT, ISI, Taliban and all such groups for concerts and cricket matches, give them autographed bats and balls. Get our actresses to plant pecks on their cheeks and voila! We have solved all the problems between the two countries, erased the deaths of thousands and resurrected the pastures that have been made barren by the shelling from both sides.
June 2008, we played the Asia Cup in Pakistan, shortly after a terrorist bombing in Jaipur (May 2008) left over a hundred innocent men, women and children dead. Even at that time, we were all ga-ga by the peace efforts of the cricket teams and saw it as the shining beacon of the resumption of peace between the two countries. What after that?
Aftermath – A co-ordinated series of attacks in Mumbai from 26 November 2008 to 29 November 2008 saw at least 172 people dead on the streets. Now I’m not trying to say that a terrorist activity happens in India after every peace effort that we make, what I’m trying to get at is the fact that thinking that pop-culture solutions to something as grave as terrorist and fundamentalist activities is simply nonsense to say the least.
All this while, Pakistani artists have been showcasing their talent in India and pressing for ‘peace’ between the two countries. Shah Rukh Khan movies are more than a rage in Islamabad and Madhuri Dixit is still seen as a ‘hoor’ by the middle aged men from Lahore. But has it helped with the real cause of peace?
Cricket has indeed helped boost the morale of people from both countries. I remember the 1999 World Cup Super 8 match between India and Pakistan that was a big issue for the soldiers in Kargil, and there was a temporary ceasefire during the intense moments of the match. Soon after the result came, soldiers from both sides zestfully resumed to their duties of shooting each other’s heads off.
Cricket, music concerts, reality shows, dance competitions and the likes are simply entertainment mediums for both the countries and the otherwise peace loving citizens. But for a terrorist group or the fundamentalist dictator, they are simply platforms to get the research and development to plan another strike on the heart of the nation.
It is about time we saw beyond the capitalist entertainment/sporting ventures for a solution to the 64-year old animosity that exists at both the sides of the fence. Melodious songs and cricket matches might change the world in a movie, but when you look at the blood stained soils of India and Pakistan, it is shameful to say the least, when we try to seek solutions in these mediums, ignoring the real scenario.