Saurav Ganguly’s men may have prevailed over the Pakistani cricket team, beating them by just 5 runs in yesterday’s one-day international cricket match in Karachi, but the real winner was Pakistan.
Karachi – the city of gruesome murders, oil spills, Dawood’s hideouts and Al-Qaeda safehouses finally found itself mentioned for something more desirable. There were 33,000 fans in the cricket stadium, with CNN reporting that the troop-to-fan ratio was 9 to 1. But the match went on fine and there were no untoward incidents; a perfect display of orderly behaviour. Impressive.
Pakistan has won; because it can now tell the whole world that if our sworn enemies can play cricket unmolested we are not the dangerous people you think we are. Ironically, India is responsible for handing Pakistan this public relations lollipop and singlehandedly helping to revive Pakistan’s sinking reputation.
But I’m not yet convinced if Pakistan and Musharraf have really changed. There are signs, like the first one-dayer, which point to Pakistan moving towards reconciliation with India. These are cause for some hope, but Pakistan has yet to exorcise the ghosts of its past and undergo a process of national reconciliation. This process has yet to start and when it does, will be mired in political controversy arising from Musharraf’s undemocratic dispensation. Will the Pakistani people throw away Musharraf’s India policy, when (inevitably) they throw out his version of army-enhanced democracy?
And then can Indian cricketers still play cricket safely in Karachi when the fans outnumber the security forces 9 to 1?