Islamabad: It appears that Pakistan and India are using cricket as "a metaphor to convey just how determined they are to stay at a distance from and hostile to one another", said a leading Pakistani daily on Wednesday.
An editorial "Indo-Pak sporting ties: It’s just not cricket" in the Dawn said that the pronouncement of Sartaj Aziz, the prime minister's advisor on foreign affairs and national security, on cricketing ties between Pakistan and India tells us that it is not always useful to mix politics with sport.
Aziz said there can be no cricket between the two countries under the current circumstances.
The daily said: "His words are a troubling sign of just how long it could take for the two countries to prepare the ground for even a tentative exchange. And if anyone in recent times had high hopes of cricket playing its customary and often celebrated role of bridging the gap, these have been effectively dashed by those who make or implement national policies in New Delhi and Islamabad."
"This is a tangle beyond the reach of the game to sort out, the recent flurry of statements predicting no-play for an unforeseen period of time between the two sides."
It noted that if anything, "it appears that both sides are using cricket as a metaphor to convey just how determined they are to stay at a distance from and hostile to one another".
The editorial said that although there were long years of no matches between the two sides, "Pakistan and India have ‘clashed’ on the cricket ground in the worst of times. In the period beginning the late 1970s, the two countries found ways to play with each other even when some patriots would rather have them fight it out on the borders".
"Thus, the inability of Delhi and Islamabad - represented as they are by the BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India) and PCB (Pakistan Cricket Board) - to play today demonstrates just how bad the relationship is."
The daily went on to say it would be "pointless to wish for cricket to be seen as an independent entity that can chart its own course away from the trajectory of Pakistan-India ties that is determined by the growing unease between the two neighbours at the political level".
"It is unfortunate how politics affects sporting ties. But that is the way it is."