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

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land In French Port

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching 'Fortress Europe' More

Video Westgate Mall Attack Survivors Confront Painful Memories

On anniversary of terror attack, survivors discuss how they have coped with trauma they experienced that day More

New Hints That Dark Matter Exists

New evidence from International Space Station hints at existence of dark matter and dark energy 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.
Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calaisi
Lisa Bryant
September 19, 2014 5:04 PM
The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.

Video CERN Accelerator Back in Business

The long upgrade of the Large Hadron Collider is over. The scientific instrument responsible for the discovery of the Higgs boson -- the so-called "God particle" -- is being brought up to speed in time for this month's 60th anniversary of the European Organization for Nuclear Research, known by its French acronym CERN. Physicists hope the accelerator will help them uncover more secrets about the origins of the universe. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.

Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More