During our recent visit to Abu Dhabi, while awaiting our turn to enter the Grand Mosque, we got talking to a group of Pakistani youth. After the exchange of pleasantries, the conversation veered off to cricketing relations. It was like touching a raw nerve. Without mincing words, all of them blamed India for the current wretched standing of Pakistan in the cricketing world. Their bitterness was palpable. According to them, India’s refusal to have bilateral series with Pakistan was the trigger that started showing Pakistan in poor light as an unsafe playing destination.
They rued the fact that foreign teams decline to visit Pakistan and they are forced to host them in the gulf countries. “It is like inviting your guests for meals to a friend’s house because they decline to come to your house. We feel insulted and it hurts the whole nation immensely,” alleged a jean-clad man. Another Pakistani was quick to add, “We have been craving to see cricket matches on our grounds but are being shunned due to India. Your country has been very unfair to us.” It was an emotional outburst. Fortunately, the ushers asked their group to enter the mosque and the conversation ended abruptly.
It was a revealing experience. We always knew that cricket was an obsession with Pakistan but were amazed to realise the severity of the impact of the refusal of foreign teams to play in Pakistan. It has dented the country’s self respect and affected their national psyche.
In the wake of the loathsome Pulwama massacre, the issue of boycotting cricketing ties with Pakistan is being hotly debated in the media. India is scheduled to play Pakistan on June 16 during the World Cup. Whereas most countrymen want India to decline to play cricket with Pakistan, two sets of people are opposing the boycott – biryani-eating apologists for Pakistan and the mercenaries who can sell their soul (and even the country) for easy money.
Pakistan has been able to cultivate many influential Indians through what is commonly referred to as ‘biryani-diplomacy’. The assortment consists of political leaders, intelligentsia and media personnel. They are frequently taken on fully-paid trips to exotic locales the world over, ostensibly for seminars and group discussions. Lavish hospitality generates bonhomie, providing ideal setting for Pak operatives to establish personal rapport with the Indian guests. Soon, such Indian friends of Pakistan start suffering from, what is derisively referred to as ‘Biryani Loyalty Syndrome’. Masquerading as intellectuals with liberal views, they come together with the sole objective of undermining the country to curry favour with their mentors in Pakistan by portraying it as a reasonable and peace-loving country.
These Pak-loyalists tell us that the Pakistani public loves Indians and only a handful of misguided elements are creating all the mischief. It is an outrageous lie. Anti-India feelings are so pervasive that even a casual visitor to Pak websites and blogs gets taken aback to see venality of comments against India. There is hardly a sane voice that advocates the need to promote amity. Strangely, India bashing invariably degenerates into Hindu bashing by painting every issue with communal colour.
A few years ago, a group of Indian women visited Pakistan under a social exchange programme. One of the ladies sustained a wrist fracture in an accidental fall and was taken to the nearest medical facility. The wrist was duly bandaged. During small talk, the lady tried to sound polite and friendly. When she referred to the commonality of Indian and Pakistani cultures, the doctor flared up and blasted the lady for her ‘flawed views’.
“What is common between us? We eat cows and you worship them. We asked for a separate nation only because we are totally different in all respects. I suggest you Indians stop fooling yourselves”, he thundered.
The above incident has been recalled here to show the effect of decades of indoctrination and brainwashing. If the mind of a well-educated doctor can be poisoned so very viciously, the severity of impact on the general public can well be gauged. While dealing with India, a strange sadistic instinct gets aroused. The treatment meted out to the patrol led by Lt Saurabh Kalia in May 1999 by the Pakistan army will put even barbarians and animals to shame for its sheer cruelty.
Self-Seeking Champions of Sporting Ties
The second set of people who want to continue cricketing ties with Pakistan are those who are more concerned with their commercial interests than the national feelings. A legendary cricketer has expressed his support for Indo-Pak matches. Apparently, he wants to earn money as a commentator even if Pakistan keeps killing Indian soldiers and citizens. Would he have been equally keen, had his own son become a casualty in a terrorist strike? One expected Sachin Tendulkar, holder of an honorary rank of group captain in the Indian Air Force, to show solidarity with the soldiers by extending unequivocal support to boycotting match with Pakistan rather than talking about two-points loss.
Dreading loss of revenue, many egotistical entities demand that Indo-Pak sports ties should not be held hostage to politics. It is a perverse and outlandish argument. They deliberately ignore the fact that India is fighting a sub-conventional war and not playing quiescent politics. India has lost more lives due to Pak-sponsored terrorist activities than all the armed conflicts fought after the Independence. If it is not war, pray what is it?
By asserting that the sporting ties can improve relations between the two countries is all baloney and hogwash. It is a smokescreen to justify their demand to make money under the euphemism of sporting ties. Such selfish entities are least concerned about the loss of Indian lives due to Pak hostilities. Their masquerading as ambassadors of friendship is a facade to fill their own coffers.
Let us all be clear about one fact. Pakistan was born on anti-India plank and it is its only identity. The day Pakistan sheds hostility towards India and adopts a conciliatory stance, it would amount to negating the two-nation theory, the very raison d'etre for its existence. Therefore, Pakistan cannot afford to shed its antagonism towards India. Kashmir is merely a manifestation of Pakistan’s infinite hostility towards India.
Were India to hand over Kashmir to it on a platter, Pakistan would invent newer issues to keep the pot boiling. Discord and acrimony would continue as always.
Rogue countries like Pakistan do not believe in international conventions and shamelessly flout them.
Soldiers’ dedication to duty, loyalty to the nation and willingness for the supreme sacrifice are driven less by material considerations and more by an overwhelming urge to earn love and respect of their countrymen.
However, they feel betrayed when the same countrymen want to shake hands and play cricket with the perpetrators of carnages, simply because the world cup with associated earnings is far more important to them than the tears of martyrs’ widows and orphans.
Finally, playing cricket with a country whose avowed aim is to destroy India can never be justified. It is an insult to the memory of the thousands of Indians killed by Pakistan. Following the example of the successful boycott of apartheid South Africa, India should leverage its enormous clout with the world cricket body to have Pakistan expelled from the cricketing world for its sponsorship of terrorism the world over. It will hit Pakistan hard.
In case the above is not possible, the least India can do is to refuse to play cricket with Pakistan. If India cannot cut off all ties with Pakistan, it cannot expect other countries to shun Pakistan. It will deal a fatal blow to India’s campaign to isolate Pakistan globally. Cricket is Pakistan’s Achilles heel and boycott by India will be the most painful blow to its psyche. What better way to demonstrate solidarity with the martyrs’ families and to express national fury at the brutal killing of brave men at Pulwama!
Note: The views expressed in the article are of the author's and not of Sify.com.
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