Islamabad: A top Pakistani minister provoked derision on social media yesterday after he suggested the Taliban could swap their guns for cricket bats and offered to host a match with the militants to revive stalled peace talks.
Pakistan’s government entered into a formal dialogue with the Taliban earlier this month, but the process faltered after the militants executed 23 kidnapped soldiers.
The military retaliated with a series of air strikes in the tribal areas, which is home to the Taliban’s top leadership, killing dozens.
But with talks on a sticky wicket, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said that cricket could offer hope.
“I have information that the Taliban keep an interest in cricket. So if this message can go through to them, we can have a cricket match with them which can have a better result,” he said.
Reaction to the announcement was overwhelmingly negative on Twitter.
One user called @MidhatZ, said: “Cricket on a red pitch and may be they could bowl with our soldiers heads?”
Another user, @kursed, termed the minister a ‘bloody lunatic’.
Cricket diplomacy has helped thaw ties between Pakistan and India in the past, with a visit by military ruler General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq to Jaipur in 1987 to watch a Test match