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Collateral damage: Sports, arts pay price of India-Pakistan tensions

Published Jan 22, 2013 10:51am


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In the last few days, some of Pakistan's leading hockey players have been forced to pull out of a new money-spinning competition while its women cricketers have had to rewrite their World Cup plans. -Photo by AP

NEW DELHI: The guns may have fallen silent, but the collateral damage from a deadly flare-up between India and Pakistan is still mounting with major sporting and arts events among those hit by the fallout.

Less than a month ago, Pakistan's cricket team embarked on its first tour to India in nearly five years.

But hopes the trip would herald a wider cultural thaw were soon dashed by tit-for-tat military exchanges in disputed Kashmir that killed five soldiers in nine days.

Although the two armies agreed a ceasefire on January 16, the impact of the violence is being felt far away from the front line.

In the last few days, some of Pakistan's leading hockey players have been forced to pull out of a new money-spinning competition while its women cricketers have had to rewrite their World Cup plans.

A Lahore-based theatre group had to scrap a performance at a prestigious Delhi venue and a row has broken out over the participation of Pakistani authors in an international literary festival in Rajasthan.

“The arts are always a high-visibility and low-cost target,” said Sanjoy Roy, one of the organisers of this weekend's Jaipur Literature Festival.

Last year's festival made headlines when the Satanic Verses author Salman Rushdie stayed away in the face of threats by Islamic activists.

Now Hindu nationalists are threatening to disrupt this year's event to protest the presence of Pakistani authors such as Nadeem Aslam and Mohammad Hanif.

Local members of the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are to meet police on Tuesday when they will urge officers to instruct festival organisers to rescind the invitations.

“We must send a message across the border that Pakistan must be isolated,” Suman Sharma, vice president of the party's Rajasthan branch, told AFP.

“The absence of a few Pakistani authors will not affect the festival, so why bother even having them in Jaipur?”

Roy said there was no question of invitations being withdrawn.

“We are not going to be bullied by any kind of faction,” Roy told AFP.

But while the Jaipur organisers are standing firm, Ajoka, a Lahore-based troupe, were not allowed to perform as scheduled on Saturday night at an annual theatre festival at the Delhi-based National School of Drama (NSD).

Instead, they ended up putting on a production of a play by Urdu writer Saadat Hasan Manto at the smaller Akshara theatre.

The play's director Madeeha Gauhar said police should have been able to guarantee security at the NSD if they were worried about “fringe elements”.

Jalabala Vaidya, a manager at the Akshara theatre, said it was important for cultural ties to continue even at times of heightened tensions.

“Art and sports should never be dragged in whenever there is war-mongering on either side,” she told The Hindu newspaper.

Anti-Pakistan sentiment has been fuelled in India by the alleged beheading of a soldier along the Kashmir border on January 8. New Delhi blames Pakistani troops although Islamabad denies responsibility.

Politicians from the government and opposition have criticised the “inhuman” attack with Sushma Swaraj, the BJP's leader in parliament, calling for India to “get at least 10 heads from the other side”.

Salman Bashir, Pakistan's high commissioner in New Delhi, said Pakistan must not become a political football in the run-up to India's elections next year.

“India will not be an election issue in Pakistan and I certainly wish that Pakistan does not become an election issue in India,” Bashir told AFP.

Protests by Shiv Sena, another right-wing Hindu nationalist party, prompted organisers of the inaugural Hockey India League to send home nine Pakistani stars just as the tournament began last week.

“When sport is above prejudice, it is wonderful. But when it aligns with prejudice, sport begins to diminish,” said the squad's Australian coach Ric Charlesworth.

Pakistan's Imran Butt, who was part of the Mumbai Magicians team which lost four Pakistani players, said he hoped to return some day.

“Despite what happened, we were well looked after during our stay. We are very friendly with the Indian players,” he told AFP.

Fear of similar disruption has forced the International Cricket Council to look for a separate venue to host Pakistan's matches in the women's World Cup starting on January 31.

The entire tournament was due to be held in Mumbai, but the cricket association in the eastern state of Orissa says it has now been asked to host Pakistan's group matches.


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Comments (48) Closed

Thinker Jan 22, 2013 12:13pm
I believe core issues should be resolved before anything. Every time people say peace process should start as we are neighbors etc etc and core issues would get normalized latter on. And peace process starts and then something hurting other countries sentiments happen and then everyone points on core issues. Hey man if core issues are causing it why did you start the peace process at first place. If it can't be solved in 66 years don't try to solve it.
Girish Jan 22, 2013 12:16pm
I just don't understand what they are going to get through so called CULTURAL TIES?
manish Jan 22, 2013 04:25pm
If govt. representative (High Commissioner) should be given space in each other's land and unwanted elements are showing their presence on their will and they why should not representative of peace loving people like theaters group be allowed to perform..By the way, Ajoka group presented their performance in Jawaharlal Nehru University, Convention Centre as well in front of more than 500 audience on Saturday night.
Baba Jan 22, 2013 04:24pm
I think the core issues as viewed by both countries are different. The primary core issue for Pakistan (as enunciated by ex president Parvez Musharraff) seems to be Kashmir but for India it is dealing with two power points, the government and the military not necessarily in that order.
z2cents Jan 22, 2013 03:05pm
I dont think there is any need for a deep friendship or cultural ties. Not all neighobours need to be good friends. As long as the neighbours respect each others boundaries and not create trouble, we will be ok.
Hrleen Jan 22, 2013 02:02pm
India is not Pakistan's extension where platforms will be provided to Pakistan artists or sportspersons to showcase their skills, while Pakistan as a state continue to launch terror attacks on India. For me terror attacks in Mumbai changed everything about Pakistan. Nothing is more important than human life.
BRR Jan 22, 2013 03:21pm
The two countries need to get on with life and ignore the beast on the other side. Unfortunately, Pakistan insists on interfering in India, hence India cannot ignore Pakistan's nuisance value.
Edwardian Jan 22, 2013 11:58am
In other words, rightly proven that we are a different nation and we needed our Pakistan for our own survival. Now the neighbours have to learn how to exist in peace.
Anish Jan 22, 2013 04:55pm
Isn't it Pakistan that has started this trend? Is it not the case that Bollywood movies are banned there? Is it not the case that Pakistanis have to see pirated CDs to see their favorite movies. How many times, Pakistanis have invited likes of Lata Mangeshkar or Kishore Kumar to their land for public performances? And indeed about sports also, is it not the case that it was Pakistani govt, yes govt and not the public, who in Karachi Pak A vs India A cricket test match, refused to come to the ground citing solidarity with what they call freedom fighters of Kashmir. Aur ab baat kartein hain!
P.Mishra Jan 22, 2013 05:17pm
I salute those who are trying to organize the cultural ties in spite of heavy odds in both the sides of the border. Situation is such that even tiny spark can create a big explosion. Let us not forget that ,It is very easy to make jingoistic statements . Nothing great or heroic about it. But extremely difficult to start a peace process. For growth of both the sides we need peace. There are vested interests who do not want this to continue. Let us not play to their hand. Let us never stop the people to people interaction. Giftgu chalta rahe.Baten band na ho
Bipul (Indian) Jan 22, 2013 05:25pm
Sports and Arts are thriving in India. No one paying any price by loosing Pakistani counterparts. Pakistanies think that they should be treated differently from their government. But what they don't understand is Pakistani government is elected by them and they do what they have been elected for. These emotionally coated statements doesn't change the reality that Pakistanies actually endorse what their government did with Indian soldiers and no one really wants peace whether they are sportsman, artist or whatever. It's all double speak.
raja Jan 22, 2013 05:51pm
No doubt about this, Pakistan was necessarily required to safegaurd our freedom from majority. We need to respect God,s blessing in form of Pakistan and make efforts for its betterment. Long live Pakistan,
Indian Jan 22, 2013 06:07pm
Even otherwise these cultural ties are unilateral, Pakistani artists / players performing in India. I have never come across any Indian performances that are encouraged in Pakistan even during peaceful normal times. Pakistan mindset is deeply rooted in two nation theory hence, there won't be peace between these two nations and any cultural exchange is mining less.
mukunda Jan 22, 2013 06:21pm
This is Pakistani hypocracy. Pakistan always look for India for sports, arts, music etc. Every Pakistani artist dream of performing in India, every Pakistani sports man wants to play in IPL, HIL etc, but Pakistani at political level cannot stay in peace with India. Pak Govt is too soft on terrorists and infact encourage terrorists to operate in India.
Bombay Crusader Jan 22, 2013 06:59pm
Sandeep Singh Jan 22, 2013 07:49pm
look who is talking about peace. Peace in pakistan. What a joke
Misbahjon Jan 22, 2013 08:55pm
Art, what art in a Muslim world. They are not allowed to have music movies etc. has the Muslim world ever produced fine art?
bajwa Jan 23, 2013 07:38am
na ab marte waqt wo cameras le ke bethe ho han aj hum marne wale hai koi proof to ho sabit karne ke liye hey u child mind next time when pputting some statement just review what u say
Gautam Jan 22, 2013 09:37pm
Artists are fine but the trouble arises when Pakistan sends Artists of a different kind, especially the ones who don't need a Visa. Its not just India, Pakistani ARTISTS are known to PERFORM around the world. Pakistan nurtures such TALENT from a very young age and that's one of the reasons they WOW innocent people successfully. Pakistan has established a very successful Artist support program which has seen International Artists flock to Pakistan and mentor future Pakistani artists.
Different View Jan 22, 2013 10:25pm
There are other nations Pakistan and India can compete with. We seriously don't need to be competing with each other. We don't need cultural ties build again only to be broken back. So if there is a collateral damage 'So be it'. We both should look at alternatives. We have too much baggage.
Irfan Jan 22, 2013 11:24pm
Now I am starting to wish that Pakistan had not beaten India in Cricket. Looking back in history, it seems like whenever India gets beating from Pakistan in any sport they stop playing with Pakistan.
Shabut Jan 23, 2013 12:38am
It is very disappointing how irresponsible Indian reaction was to the events. Indians along with their media tried to whip up things that were not to be. They tried to malign and degrade a professional institution of Pakistan army by pathetically trying to prove them barbarians. But they failed miserably. It was such a cheap act of spreading hatred against a nation and it's armed forces. What a shame for this so called biggest democracy on this planet.
Shabut Jan 23, 2013 12:44am
No postmortems, no proofs, and no inquiry whatsoever and Indians were so quick to blame the Pakistan army. The very fact that Indians don't want an independent inquiry by the UN proves how fabricated their story is. Indians have shown their dirty side once again. No wonder why all the Indian neighbors like China, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Nepal have issues with them. Indians are a very disillusioned nation right now which they will realize very soon.
Shabut Jan 23, 2013 12:48am
You are right. Indians must accept and get serious about resolving the core issues. They want to hide behind these cultural ties which have been their intentions for so long now but India must confront the reality and work towards a resolution so that it's neighbors can live in peace.
PakAm Jan 23, 2013 01:36am
Let's solve the Kashmir issue and 99.99% issues will be sloved. it is the bone of contention for 70 years and it will remain bone of contention for another 500 years if goes unresloved.Everything else is patty stuff.
Realist Jan 23, 2013 01:40am
There is no need of any tie between India and Pakistan. These are two entirely different nations with their own priorities and there is no need of any cultural exchange etc. It is the Pakistanis who in absence of any opportunity in arts/culture/sports in their own country are dying to cross the border. There are enough talented people in India, and I am sure over time, Pakistanis will provide enough opportunities to these greedy folks in their own country. In case these folks' talent get wasted, sorry bad luck. Lets get real and allow Pakistan and India carve out their own destinies. It is pure nonsense watching a Pakistani singer when another Pakistani kills one of our soldiers or 10 Pakistani terrorists attack a city and kill almost 200 Indians and Foreigners.
ronak Jan 23, 2013 02:02am
musla should be exterminated from the face of this earth, if peace is going to have any chance.
rishi Jan 23, 2013 02:09am
alleged beheading?????
deepak Jan 23, 2013 02:44am
When India says no to have cricket matches with pakistan then pakistanis say politics should be seperate from sprots. Where was this rule when pakistan banned their players to play in BPL?
karim Jan 23, 2013 04:37am
Indians are small hearted and hateful.
Waqar Jan 23, 2013 04:49am
We have become a laughing stock like stooges ....sometimes I wonder if its a drama....
sk Jan 23, 2013 05:03am
Funny how it is only the Pakistani who are desperate to go to India... be it Sportsperson, artists, or common visitors!!
Krishna Jan 23, 2013 05:24am
When pakistani cricketers, artists, hockey players, musicians, singers, actors want to come to India and earn.. my simple question is why pakistan was seperated from India.. It was you guys who didn't want to live with us saying that hindus and muslims are two seperate nations.. then why is that you people are interested in coming back to India.. why did you seperate in the first place... as simple as that..
Gautam Jan 23, 2013 09:12am
Done Resolved! Don't cross the LoC again, We good?
Ashok Jan 23, 2013 05:33am
Clearly, the cultural ties, sports events and political peace talks have accomplished precious little... When these events (example a cricket match) are held, they look like 'warfare' - the animosity is quite telling... It's unlikely it'll change anytime soon....
Almanar Jan 23, 2013 11:23am
You are saying that all the Pakistanis barring very few are terrorists. Not a single one has ever been found in ANY major incident. The ones who are found in the middle of something are sketchy anyways. See with your logic, nobody should take a bus in India because they are deemed to be raped and murdered. OUCH!
adnan rao Jan 23, 2013 11:44am
well krishna , very nice point to be raised. if we want to take this example then why not mentioned that there are millions of indians are UK and other country what if they say the same . what will you say to that?
Mr.T Jan 23, 2013 02:03pm
Towards Pakistan we are
Akram Jan 23, 2013 07:54pm
Heard that one many times before.
Akram Jan 23, 2013 07:59pm
Wow Gautam, you sound like a very highly educated Indian.
gautam Jan 23, 2013 08:08pm
Indians should thank Mr.ballav bhai Patel that India was divided. Imagine living with another 300 million muslims in Pakistan and Bangladesh.
aditya Jan 23, 2013 09:38pm
dont think so much about india's future baby......see the i m going to show u something..... 1st -baluchistan condition,2nd-pakhatunistan condition......3rd karachi killing....... pak is in front of your self..that'll be better for u.....u have enough problems to handle ,first solve them ...pakistan population-18-20 corors.......huh ,we have a middle class of 30-35 carors,who earn more than the rich families of pak........
kaushik Jan 23, 2013 09:41pm
you don't make sense....its about india and pakistan..please clarify your thought
Chi Jan 24, 2013 01:02am
You asked for a separate country and you got. Now stop bothering us and manage ur Jehadis. You have bigger issues at hand.
Burn Hall Jan 24, 2013 01:57am
The British kept us in line with a "Danda" and later with a rifle. What a shame that we can't get along without the threat of a Danda. In the US, Indians and Pakistanis get along since the threat of Danda exists. Why can't we live in harmony like US and Canada do and various other countries do. We look alike, share similar cultures, eat same food and the list can go on and on and yet we can't live in peace.
Sumeet Jan 24, 2013 01:58am
Nailed It Adnan!!! Good Response!
bacha khan Jan 24, 2013 04:35am
Answer lies in the difference between expatriate and traitors...
Secular no more Jan 24, 2013 10:33am
Well said Deepak!!