News / Asia

India, Pakistan to Resume Bilateral Cricket Ties

Zaka Ashraf, chief of Pakistan Cricket Board gives details of upcoming Pakistan-Indian cricket series to reporters,  in Lahore, Pakistan, July 16, 2012.
Zaka Ashraf, chief of Pakistan Cricket Board gives details of upcoming Pakistan-Indian cricket series to reporters, in Lahore, Pakistan, July 16, 2012.
Anjana Pasricha
NEW DELHI — India and Pakistan will play a series of cricket matches later this year, marking the resumption of bilateral sporting ties after five years. Cricket matches between the South Asian rivals are not only one of the world’s most intense sporting rivalries - they are often intertwined with politics.

Like millions of people on the subcontinent, New Delhi resident Varun Mehta is crazy about cricket. He is jubilant that India and Pakistan are set to play three one-day matches starting December this year.  

"Yes, there are high passions on both sides, and one gets very personally involved in these matches," he said.

Renewing ties

Earlier this week, the Board of Cricket Control of India announced that the Pakistani cricket team will tour India, reviving bilateral sporting ties that India had put on hold in 2008 after blaming Pakistan-based militants for terror attacks in its financial hub Mumbai.

For years, cricket matches between the South Asian rivals have been high voltage encounters that attract more than 400 million television viewers - far higher than contests with other countries. That is largely because the game often acquires the overtones of their decades old political rivalry. 

Rakesh Dhir, a 65-year-old avid cricket fan, admits that for him, a cricket match with India’s rival is not just a game - it is a heart-stopping contest.

"There is a great amount of emotion involved," said Dhir. "You really want India to win, which is not so against the others. When you lose to Pakistan, then there is a tremendous sense of loss." 

The most charged encounter between the two countries took place in 2003 in South Africa, months after the two countries came close to war. The cricket pitch was widely described as a miniature battlefield.

Since then, relations have improved. Their disputed Kashmir border is quiet and more people travel from one country to the other as part of an effort to increase what diplomats call “people-to-people” contacts. And, although a peace process and bilateral sporting ties were disrupted by the Mumbai attacks, there is less animosity.

Cricket diplomacy

Sports columnist V. Sri Vatsa in New Delhi says recent cricket encounters at multi-team tournaments show that the two nations have come a long way.

"Now people have started looking at these contests as a sporting contest rather than a war between two countries, which is again a remarkable change in the attitude of the two people of the two countries," said Sri Vatsa.

He cites the example of a match played by the rivals last year in India as part of the World Cup series. High tension and fervor were part of the game - but the spirit of intense hostility had been replaced by more bonhomie. 

Cricket also plays a crucial role in diplomacy, with top leaders from both countries sometimes joining the spectators. The prime ministers of the two countries attended last year’s match. 

New Delhi’s decision to revive cricket ties with its neighbor has some detractors. Angered by what he calls a lack of co-operation from Pakistan in bringing the perpetrators of the Mumbai attacks to justice, former Indian cricket captain Sunil Gavaskar says  he feels there is no urgency in resuming cricket ties. Others say, it is high time to separate politics from the sport.

You May Like

Elusive Deal With Iran Could Yield Foreign Policy Legacy for Obama

A new Iranian leader -- and a strategic shift by the United States -- opens narrow window for nuclear agreement with Tehran More

Column: Saudi-Iran Meeting Could Boost Fight Against Islamic State

The fact that Iranians and Saudis are talking again does not guarantee a breakthrough, but it could make it easier to build a broad coalition against IS More

Thai Ruler Gives Top Cabinet Posts to Junta Inner Circle

Thailand's army chief has kept an iron grip on power as he extends the government, hand-picking an interim parliament that subsequently nominated him prime minister More

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015i
Carol Pearson
August 30, 2014 7:14 PM
A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.