The Indian government was spot on in making it clear that bilateral cricket series between India and Pakistan was ruled out until the terror threat from across the border ceased to exist. Union Sports Minister Vijay Goel was rightly firm that cricket and terror cannot go hand-in-hand. To play any sport or involve in any kind of cultural/music/film understanding with Pakistan would tantamount to trivialising grave issues such as the unreasonable delay in the release of Indian national Kulbhushan Jadhav despite Pakistan losing the preliminary case in the International Court of Justice, continued infiltration of terrorists and the non-stop brazen violation of ceasefire agreement. Bravehearts of Indian Army are martyred almost every week owing to the frequent skirmishes on the border. The ulterior motive of Pakistan is to torment India by fomenting agitations in Jammu & Kashmir by funding separatists and stone-pelters. Pakistan has been consistently in self-denial mode on the horrific 26/11 Mumbai attack in 2008 rejecting all the clear-cut evidence produced by India. Dreaded founders of terror outfits — Masood Azhar and Hafiz Sayeed — who masterminded several terror attacks in India are still walking free defeating Pakistan’s claims that they were under ‘house arrest’. In fact, Pakistan itself put Sayeed on the terror list recently under the fourth schedule of Anti-Terror Act. Pakistan is also responsible for providing shelter to notorious Mumbai underworld don Dawood Ibrahim, who is on the wanted list of Indian investigating agencies for long.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) may be open to negotiations with its counterpart Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) on bilateral cricket tours, but the former is right on its stand that the Indian government would take the final call on the tricky issue. True, the two countries’ teams will have a face-off on June 4 in Champions Trophy, but that 50-over match will be held in the relatively safer environs of England. Neither Pakistan nor India can ensure watertight security while playing host to the cricketing teams in such a simmering atmosphere. Anything can happen at airports, hotels, media meetings or even cricket stadia even during a short tour. That is why Pakistan players have not been allowed to take part in the Indian Premier League. Escalation of tension is eminently avoidable under the circumstances. India-Pakistan battles on any sporting ground have invariably kept the spectators on the edge. Thus, cricket lovers may justifiably feel they are at the losing end. However, if Pakistan is genuinely interested in enhancing sporting ties with India, the former has to first indicate positive signs of releasing Jadhav, stop interfering in the internal affairs of Kashmir and finally extradite Azhar and Sayeed to face trial in India.