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Let cricket be a sport; not war

Tariq Khalique

Pakistan and India, being the arch rivals for long, should shun the politics of hatred and move forward with a sense of responsibility for the progress and prosperity of the two countries, as was witnessed during the preliminary match between the two teams in the Cricket World Cup 2019, where passionate fans from both the sides were sitting and enjoying the sport with great enthusiasm alongside each other.

This time, team players of both the sides were not that aggressive against each other as was seen in the past, rather they were talking to each other in a lighter mood from time to time. Let cricket be a sport and not war.

After India beat Pakistan, India’s powerful Home Minister Amit Shah congratulated his team’s victory against Pakistan in the World Cup match and declared it as “another strike”, months after it launched air attacks over Pakistani territory in an escalation of tension between the two rivals.

Shah tweeted: “Another strike on Pakistan by #TeamIndia and the result is the same. Congratulations to the entire team for this superb performance. Every Indian is feeling proud and celebrating this impressive win.”

India continued its unbeaten World Cup run against Pakistan to seven matches with an 89 run victory. Despite volatile political relations between the two countries, the majority of fans are convinced that the battle remains confined to sport and not war.

India had cut bilateral cricketing relations with Pakistan after the Mumbai attacks in 2008. Cricket clashes are regularly tainted by the political rivalry between the two countries and many fans from both the sides view a win against each other as a matter of national honour, while defeats are looked down upon as disasters. But both the sides should now start treating each other with maturity and moderation.

The media along the borders should also show some responsibility in giving their opinions to improve not only the relations, but also keeping the sanctity of the game.

However, the BJP’s recent resounding election victory was built on the shoulder of its ability to capture sentiments against Pakistan was no secret. As the hyper-intensity of nationalism was at its peak, cricket became one of the tools to rebuke Pakistan.

Earlier, the fixture was put under doubt, as various Hindu nationalists called for a boycott of the match, but with the elections over, those voices have faded away, supplanted by cheers. The dark clouds of border tensions have largely been replaced by the cloud over the Old Trafford stadium in Manchester.

Relations between Pakistan and India often take a tempestuous colour during cricket matches, with passionate fans often venting zeal in all bitter shades. But this time, it feels, as if there is something positive.

The rivalry, which had always been beyond the bat and ball, seemed somewhat dim because supporters from both the sides were sitting alongside each other and enjoyed the game in its true spirit.

It seems people have realised that this is just a game and it should not be used for politics like leaders of both the countries do. Whoever wins the match, sanity should prevail.

With the scope for diplomacy between India and Pakistan dismantled for now, millions of eyeballs watched the highly charged match of the tournament on Sunday afternoon (June 16, 2019), but with a different approach.

It is a fact that nobody wants war, but nobody wants to lose the match either, and that should be the spirit as far as a cricket match or any other sport is concerned.

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