Viewpoint: Can India-Pakistan cricket promote peace?
Mar 16, 2016 1277

Viewpoint: Can India-Pakistan cricket promote peace?

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Image caption Pakistan allowed thousands of Indians to cross the border in 2004 to watch a series between the two countries

So India and Pakistan will play each other again on Indian soil, this time in the World Twenty20 cricket tournament.

Saturday's match will take place in Kolkata (Calcutta), having had to be shifted from picturesque Dharamsala because the chief minister of Himachal Pradesh state felt the families of Indian soldiers from his state would not welcome a game with the "enemy".

The Pakistanis nearly did not come at all, out of fear for their security.

The question of whether, amidst all the strife that besets the two countries' cricketing relations, a mere sport can bring them together, is at one level easy to answer: No.

Sport can sublimate many emotions, but it cannot be a substitute for geopolitics. Cricket can be an instrument for diplomacy, not an alternative to it.

After all, six decades of cricketing ties have done little to promote good relations between the two antagonists.

Victim of politics

If anything, the game has been a victim of politics, as proved by the 18-year gap in cricketing relations between the two countries from 1960 to 1978, the dozen-year hiatus in Pakistani Test tours of India between 1987 and 1999, and the current stalemate, brought about by the 2008 Mumbai attacks and sustained by subsequent incidents.