Cricket fans hungry to experience the thrill of India vs Pakistan cricketing rivalry will rejoice in the Board of Control for Cricket in India’s decision to resume ties towards the end of 2012.
But a resumption of cricketing ties between the two countries is not a matter of playing the game alone; the symbolism goes much deeper. India suspended all cricketing ties with Pakistan following the horrific attack by Pakistan-trained terrorists on November 26, 2008 across various, carefully chosen targets in Mumbai. The attack claimed 169 lives, and India should never forget that.
Pakistan has consistently disregarded India’s protests over the attack, and has unashamedly extended state support to Hafiz Saeed, the founder of the terrorist organisation Lashkar-e-Tayyeba and the mastermind behind the attack. A sham of a trial is currently on in Pakistan after some of the accused in the attack were arrested. But which Pakistani judge would dare pronounce a guilty sentence in an environment that breeds intolerance towards anything that symbolises justice?
Of course, the decision to resume cricketing may have other motives including strengthening bonds with Pakistan who will in turn show support at the International Cricket Council. Cricket administrators, after all, can match, or even beat politicians when it comes to being wily.
India vs Pakistan cricket resumption, therefore, can be a grand success if viewed only in a truly sporting sense. But that would have been possible only if Pakistan agreed to hand over Saeed or prosecute him, considering the overwhelming evidence against him and his organisation. Even the United States has declared a bounty of $10 million on him for his terror activities.
Even if India and Pakistan would want to restart playing against each other (and it is indeed a noble sporting cause), the symbolism of suspended ties cannot be discounted. Cricket is the biggest game in both countries, and any series between the two would bring in an immense amount of revenue.
The BCCI must consider these factors before resuming ties.