The hot topic of discussion in Indian media and citizens is that should the nation forfeit its match against Pakistan in the upcoming ICC World Cup 2019. The mega event starts from May 30 onwards in England and Wales. Opinions from former cricketers, pundits and associations are the running order of the day. Many feel India boycotting Pakistan will be the way forward. But is banning a World Cup match the answer?
The idea of this came in the wake of last week’s suicide attack in Jammu and Kashmir. An explosive-ladened SUV hit a CRPF convoy in Pulwama, which in turn killed 40 Indian soldiers. A Pakistan-based militant group Jaishe-e-Mohammed has taken responsibility. India is still reeling from the ghastly incident that is considered to be the deadliest terror attack in more than two decades in J&K. Imran Khan, Pakistan’s prime minister and Patron of the Pakistan Cricket Board, has denied that allegation and asked India to share actionable evidence.
The government has take some stern actions and has given the forces complete freedom to go on and plan their way of response. It is indeed a moment of sadness and shock in relation to this moment of cowardice by the terror organisation. As we move forward from the incident, there is too much happening all around.
Cancelling the match would hurt the image of the World Cup. India have never lost a World Cup game to Pakistan. Going back in time, in 1999, the two countries were involved in the Kargil war. But despite that, the two sides played a low-scoring game in Manchester. India won by 47 runs. As per reports, on the day of the match, six Pakistani soldiers and three Indian officers were killed in the war-zone Kargil.
Coming to cricket, there hasn’t been a decision yet on what India will do. For now the the BCCI has left the decision to the government with the World Cup less than 100 days to go. The Indian team led by Virat Kohli has backed the decision and will follow whatever awaits in the future.
#WATCH Virat Kohli on Ind Vs Pak in World Cup says, "Our sincere condolences to the families of CRPF soldiers who lost their lives in #PulwamaAttack. We stand by what the nation wants to do and what the BCCI decides to do." pic.twitter.com/gjyJ9qDxts
— ANI (@ANI) February 23, 2019
What’s the BCCI been up to?
On Friday, the BCCI wrote a letter to the ICC, requesting its members to shun ties with nations which harbours terrorists. Notably, the BCCI expressed its concerns over the Pulwama attack, besides the security of Indian players. This decision was taken at a high-level meeting of the Indian cricket board that was chaired by the Committee of Administrators (CoA) and BCCI chief Rahul Johri.
BCCI writes to ICC regarding its concerns & commitments ahead of ICC events including World Cup. Concerns include security of Indian players, officials, fans. BCCI in its letter urges the cricketing community to sever ties with countries from where terror emanates. #PulwamaAttack pic.twitter.com/Wg2hepTrsk
— ANI (@ANI) February 22, 2019
The BCCI had mulled upon asking the ICC to ban Pakistan from participating in World Cup. After the meeting, CoA chief Vonod Rai stated that things will be done after consultation with the government. On Saturday, Rai said to The Indian Express, “Why should we shoot ourselves in the foot by not playing? We should seek their (Pakistan) ouster and remove them from the cricketing committee.”
ICC chairman Shashank Manohar has assured that there will be full arrangements made as far security is concerned. He also assured that the BCCI’s letter and the concerns expressed therein, will be submitted before the ICC Board. With the schedule out and arrangements made, it is highly unlikely that Pakistan will be removed from the World Cup. There have been reports suggesting that if India boycotts the group stage match on June 16, then they would surrender points to Pakistan.
There have been talks that if India boycotts the match, then the ICC might take action against BCCI and the Indian body might even get banned. So the need of the hour is to be patient and not take any decision in a hurry. Let the government decide on how things should go once the World Cup approaches. There is still time for a firm decision to be made.
Opinions of former cricketers have been divided
Meanwhile, opinions are divided as far as playing Pakistan at the World Cup is concerned. Harbhajan Singh, VVS Laxman and Sourav Ganguly are among the prominent names asking for a boycott of not just the cricket match but overall ties with Pakistan. “There is no chance of a bilateral series with Pakistan after this incident. I agree that after this attack, India should not only stop playing cricket, hockey or football with Pakistan but cut all ties with them,” said Ganguly to India TV.
Bhajji had echoed the same sentiments days earlier. “India should not play Pakistan in the World Cup. India are powerful enough to win the World Cup without having to play Pakistan,” he said to India Today.
On the other hand, players like Sachin Tendulkar and Sunil Gavaskar begged to differ. “If India decide not to play Pakistan in the World Cup, who wins? Pakistan will get two points. We have beaten them every time in World Cups. We can play them and beat them and make sure they don’t reach the semi-finals. Not playing bilateral series vs Pakistan hurts them,” said Gavaskar.
Tendulkar batted for a similar approach. “India has always come up trumps against Pakistan in the World Cup. Time to beat them once again. Would personally hate to give them two points and help them in the tournament. Having said that, for me India always comes first, so whatever my country decides, I will back that decision with all my heart.”
We should unite together at this time
Many right-wing followers have turned this incident into a problematic one. From opining on what the Army should do, calls for the match to be called off and attacking Kashmiris, it’s all happening. Sitting in drawing rooms in front of television sets and saying this and that should be done is an act of cowardice. So is beating up innocent Kashmiris across various cities in name of Pulwama attack. And it doesn’t end just here.
From vendors, students and office going people, innocent Kashmiris have been treated violently. It’s a time when we as the people of India should unite and come together. It isn’t a time where we spread communal hatred, target minorities and lash out at everything. Calling for attacking Pakistan is clueless. The Indian army should get their full freedom to decide how to go about things. We do not want another Afghanistan or Iraq in the making. We do not want innocents to suffer.
We also want our innocent Kashmiri brothers and sisters to be able to live peacefully. Two separate attacks in West Bengal took place where Kashmiri shawl vendors were beaten up. Many others are in a state of shock as attacks have spread across the country. This is something wrong happening. Therefore, opinions of the citizens should be kept aside and things should be done in what’s better for the nation.
Why sports should not be mixed?
India and Pakistan should play in the Cricket World Cup. There is no two ways to think about this. It was bizarre that Cricket Club of India (CCI) has even pushed for a move saying that the two sides should not face each other in the prestigious event in England and Wales. Now getting to the heart of the matter, the calls for boycotting the match doesn’t make sense. Questions come to the fore, why should cricket or any other sport come in between politics and terrorism.
By hosting a World Cup match between the two sides, one isn’t demeaning the attack made on the Indian army in the wake of the Pulwama terror attack. In order to protest against the dastardly terror attack on CRPF convoy in Kashmir’s Pulwama, the call for India and Pakistan’s match being cancelled by certain sections is not the right way in moving forward.
Mixing sports to the attack of Pulwama doesn’t serve justice. Indo-Pak cricket is a way where people from all across the globe enjoy the action and come together in supporting the rivalry. It’s the World Cup for Christ’s sake. An Indo-Pak match is something we all should look forward to. India and Pakistan do not play bilateral series any more. Perhaps they will never in the future. But in world events as such, the freedom should exist.
What should be the focus rather is to target terrorist organisations like Jaish-e-Mohammad, who was responsible for the ghastly deeds. The army will take revenge and there will be a way to respond to all this. Let mourn our soldiers’ death. Let’s channel the hurt and anger towards something positive. We should not go and call for a cricket match to be cancelled.
Let’s have faith in the government as far a decision is concerned. The top brass knows how to go about things maturely. The Indo-Pak game is scheduled to take place on Sunday, June 16 at the Old Trafford in Manchester.