Cricket diplomacy: out

Published May 22, 2012 12:10am

“I HATE her for how she has represented Pakistan in India. But how could an Indian berate a Pakistani on our soil? How could you journalists allow this on your own territory?”

This is one of the many similar remarks that followed after Dolly Bindra, an Indian, waved her footwear in the Lahore Press Club to emphasise a point about Veena Malik’s Indian expedition. Pakistani national sentiment was hurt and a badly tarnished image appears to have since been somewhat salvaged by the return of patriotic rescuers.

Ms Bindra and Ms Malik had come together in a television show that captured the essence of it all. They were among the individuals who had been collected in one place so that they could fight it out for personal survival and generate business as they competed with each other.

But if some remarks made since last week’s ‘waving of the shoe’ are anything to go by, the national element has since been added to spice up the contest between individuals.

Ms Malik is the worst possible advertisement for the Islamic Republic to date, which does not quite give an Indian the licence to condemn her, and that too on Pakistani soil. Ms Bindra’s antics were certain to spike anti-passions here and she appears to have successfully added to what both she and Ms Malik must have plenty of to stay relevant: controversy, this time with a national tinge.

It matters how individuals from ‘our land’ are treated by ‘others’. We can loathe a Veena to our pious soul’s content but we are trained to guard her against the onslaught of a neighbour whose intentions we should never be sure about for reasons of easy identification of interests across national borders and their even easier pursuance through the application of old formulas.

Like everywhere else, the old remains unthreatened here just as the new takes shape. Over the last few weeks many in Lahore have spent their hours dreaming about the windfall from across Wagah.

The refrain is particularly pronounced in real estate whose agents have long been waiting for the inevitable opening of borders for a fortune-changing effect on their business. The signs say it is ‘only a matter of time’ before the city is bustling with cross-border trade the locals will have a big stake in.

After long years of uncertainty, Lahore is all set to reap the rewards once the trade route is cleared of obstacles and the current trickle of things Indian gives way to a flood seeking to sweep areas in and beyond Pakistan. Then within Lahore, the persuasive real estate agent would have you believe, there are areas which are more likely to make you richer by a few lakhs than others.

The agent has his own map and a good enough seller of property does find a shorter, direct route between India and Central Asia through local territory that has stayed hidden from speculators until now. This is the moment to invest in the South Asian future, the moment the enterprising in Lahore had been waiting for.

The Indian promise has been there for quite some time, forever reacting to the tone of relations between Islamabad and New Delhi. Anticipation has grown stronger with the hopes about free-trade opportunities — competing as it does with old concepts of national honour and national ideology.

In cases where this competition is ferociously acrimonious, often a denial of a rightful Pakistani share in Indian spoils could well be the cause, and the resultant goods are immediately put on sale in the old patriotic market.

Take the fixing scandal in the Indian Premier League. The Pakistanis who are so engrossed in watching the IPL games are alternately happy to buy the fixing details.

They are angry at being singled out and dubbed as cheats, while everyone knows that all the big bookies involved in cricket booking happen to operate from Mumbai.

They are even angrier that their countrymen are not allowed to take part in the IPL and are denied both name and monetary benefits from the league. They are angry because they suspect that India has played a role in Pakistan’s isolation in world cricket. This makes Pakistanis ideal consumers of news about chunks about Indian troubles with fixing.

Just as the allegations range from serious to very serious, there are a variety of items to choose from here. India is accused of being a silent accomplice in the Pakistani cricket ordeal and it is suspected to have used its ‘veto powers’ to ensure that not even Sri Lanka and Bangladesh are willing to accommodate polite Pakistani requests for tours and venues.

This is a ‘betrayal’ after South Asia had come together in a block that could truly influence the affairs of the international cricket. Whatever issues ‘we South Asians’ might have had among ourselves it gave Pakistanis great satisfaction to be part of a regional group that could really stand up to and defeat the dictates of the distant foreigners.

The trust is deemed to have been broken and Pakistan feels it has been left alone to fight western influence together with fighting the regional group which Pakistanis feel is beholden to Indian directives.

According to a widely accepted Pakistani explanation, Bangladesh cancelled its Pakistan tour recently either because it was asked to do so by the Indian board or because the latter failed to put in sympathetic word on behalf of Pakistan to the Bangladeshis. The Pakistanis wanted one as of right and not as a favour given their cooperation with the Indian board over the past many years.

For long cricket diplomacy was considered to be the biggest hope for improvement in India-Pakistan relations. Cricket has of late gone out of the equation, leaving diplomacy to succeed on its own. As a symbol of division the game still sells as widely as it would in times where it was practically the only thing that linked the two hostile neighbours.

The writer is Dawn’s resident editor in Lahore.


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Comments (27) Closed




Naren
May 22, 2012 03:28am
I did not know India is so powerful to impose so many problems on "innocent" Pakistan. Thanks for the info. Anyway God Bless You. Naren / Mumbai
Naren
May 22, 2012 04:57am
I did not know India is so powerful to impose so many problems on "innocent" Pakistan.
alan
May 22, 2012 04:49am
pakistanis please stop crying about india and get a life of your own ....tomorrow you will start blaming india for your rising population !
Imran
May 22, 2012 05:27am
Your logic in this article is like saying that Saudi Arabians should get very angry and outraged when people make negative remarks against Usama Bin Laden ( a Saudi National). Very flawed indeed.
jo1
May 22, 2012 06:37am
There is more to life than conspiracy theories. Look beyond India. You are sounding paranoid and petulant.
khan
May 22, 2012 06:46am
who would you blame for this huge population.
Dr V. C. Bhutani
May 22, 2012 07:06am
A nephew of mine, a very young lad, said of Gen Musharraf when he complained that India had done something bad to Pakistan: "Next time his bathroom leaks, he will say India has done it." I thought the lad had a point.
Saurabh
May 22, 2012 07:27am
if somebody slips in his or her toilet in Pakistan then India is responsible for that.
Common Man
May 22, 2012 07:46am
For crying out aloud.. Did you seriously write an article on a newspaper site to dissect Dolly Bindra's comments? Come on you have to be serious, do you really think that she represents the intellectual elite who is worthy of such scrutiny? She is a delusional, loud mouth who has too many issues of her own and does not need to be taken seriously. Jai Hind
Ali
May 22, 2012 09:05am
We need to look beyond pakistan and india. There is so much beauty in life in the world. Why are we always fighting and blaming each other for everything.
joy
May 22, 2012 09:56am
Dolly Bindra finding space on Dawn!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! hey whats wrong with u guys........I am an Indian and have a lot of respect for your newspaper...pls don't let me down...... regards Joy
Paras Vikmani
May 22, 2012 11:00am
I should discontinue reading Dawn if Dolly Bindra gets a space in your website and if India-centric mentality continues!
Prithvi Chauhan
May 22, 2012 12:15pm
Hi, I am an Indian and that too (I think) a very nationalistic one. For my enlightenment can some one please tell me who the hell is this Dolly Bindra, and how she comes to represent the Indian nation and its attitude towards Pakistan (or Papua New Guinea for that matter). Let us grow up guys... +70% of Indians may not even know who Dolly Whatever is.. or even who Veena Malik is ... (though I know the latter). We have better people to talk about... Hasan Nisar, Kuldeep Nayyar, Najam Sethi, Imran Khan, L. K. Advani, Jaswant Singh, Nawaz Sharif.... why bring up these non entities who no one knows and no one cares for
Anil
May 22, 2012 12:35pm
For Indians, dolly-nobody-bindra is not even important enough to be commented on, whereas Veena is a beautiful woman and smart and charming. So Pak brothers, get a life and stop getting so sentimental. Dolly getting to meet jounalists at lahore press club?? unbelivable..!! In India, no one would even recogonize her on the road
Anthony
May 22, 2012 12:48pm
Sri Lankan Cricket team does not want to visit Pakistan after the shocking attack on them in 2009. The Bangladesh team was prevented by the Bangladesh Spreme Court to tour Pakistan, on security grounds. Where does India come into picture?Stop blaming India for all your ills. Last time when there were floods in Pakistan, the conspiracy theory experts from your country were blaming India for that! Stop being paranoid and delusional.
NASAH (USA)
May 22, 2012 12:58pm
What an obtuse article with a serpentine prose that plays hide and seek in the familiar fog of Indo-Pak innuendos.
Manojn
May 22, 2012 01:43pm
Dolly Bindra getting so much space? I would have preferred Ajmal Kasab than a nonentity like her. Please we have more respect for this newspaper than many in my country!!!
ritesh
May 22, 2012 01:51pm
He He He ! True!
Dr Pankaj Handa
May 22, 2012 01:55pm
I strongly feel that we should stop this kind of finger pointing and mudslinging. It is time we behaved like two major friendly nations. Life is too small to love each other let alone continue to fight over such petty matters. Cricket is a great game and we would do a lot better if we make use of this game to improve our relations rather than accuse each other. No body can deny that the most brazen and unfortunate attack on Sri Lankan Cricket team despite the so called Z security provided to the team was the major reason for Pakistan's current international isolation. Likes of Majid Khan, Imran Khan, Wasim Akram, Rameez Raja are some of the immensely popular names in India. Dont you forget without Dalmiya's intervention, Shohaib Akhtar's carrier would have folded at a very premature state. Culturally and historically we have so much in common. Allah Nigaibaan Yahan Bhi Hai Wahan Bhi Hai !
Ganesh
May 22, 2012 02:25pm
Only crying for India's alms!!Come on guys have your own life!!Why should India help you in all matters and be good to you always when 180 million of you have only hatred for Hindu community!!
gulshan
May 22, 2012 02:36pm
You traitor !
Obul
May 22, 2012 03:18pm
Is this Dawn's aspiration to become a tabloid :-). That should increase your coverage.
Hassan
May 22, 2012 06:20pm
Saurabh, Same thing goes for you guys. You do the same thing. When Iranians killed Israelis in Delhi, your first response pointed to Pakistan. Same thing happened when IPL match was stopped in Bangalore a year or two ago. We all need to accept the facts that deep inside both Indians and Pakistanis are the same... lol. The nature and cultural bringing up doesn't change due to difference in religion. You should also check out some of the lovely comments made by your fellow Indians on your own newspaper websites.
now-ok
May 22, 2012 07:59pm
For years Indian elite remained paranoid of Pakistani establishment. watch your films and drams
Akbar
May 23, 2012 02:40am
Pakistan is virtually opposite to what India stands for!! It is very important for Pakistan to know few things about India: If it things that cultural links will make things easier...it is mistaken. Pakistan players will have trouble playing in a society like India where divergence of cultures will confuse them. In a country where islam is used for everything and anything, it surprises how you can compare to India which not a islamic nation. The author seriously misses the point: values are greater than culture which is far more powerful than religion. I am afraid Indian secular values are opposite of what Pakistan is about. And yes Indians may come to invest-but to a nation that is peaceful and stands for secular values-not to a country like Pakistan. First Indians have to respect you for your values and viceversa and thats where things will stall.
abhishek
May 23, 2012 03:02am
why do you invite dolly bindra, why dont you invite useful people, we should get over our obsession with these manufactured personalities
Rohith
May 23, 2012 06:54pm
Absolutely right ,why on earth do we Asians waste valuable energy and time on frivolous sentimental rubbish or some politician who died years ago.We get excited about every thing but our main problems such as infrastructure,education,poverty and living standards. rohith