Did cricket help at all?

The stability/instability paradox again

So did cricket help the cause of peace? Proponents of cricketing ties, like proponents of nuclear weapons will, guardedly perhaps, argue in the affirmative. But answer is more subtle.

Like nuclear weapons, cricket too was supposed to make peace between India and Pakistan. And like nuclear weapons, cricketing ties too have resulted in a kind of stability/instability paradox. War has been avoided, while Pakistan has continued and expanded its proxy-war. Some bilateral trade is taking place, but Pakistan continues to hold it hostage to the Kashmir issue. Confidence-building measures are being discussed, and implemented as long as it is India that does the implementing.

In the two years since cricketing relations were restored, Pakistan and Musharraf were early beneficiaries. This was well-known to Indian policymakers then and very likely intentional. The hope, on India’s side, was that cricket will make the people in either country less hostile to each other and that this will lead to the softening of their government’s position on the tough issues. On the part of the Indian government, this was a delusional extension of the “people-like-us” hypothesis. Delusional, because even if the Pakistanis were “people-like-us”, their society and political organisation is hardly like ours. The upshot is that for India the political and security-related benefits of cricket remain elusive.

From the archives: All the links in this post point to older posts on this subject. In addition from April 2004, read Cricket, Globalisation and peace with Pakistan; and from April 2005 read No to Musharraf and What I wrote to Amit.

4 thoughts on “Did cricket help at all?”

  1. Did somebody really expected this to help? I would be utter naiveness to expect that years of serious differences would be solved by playing cricket. Same is the case of that greeating card from India to Pakistan (supposedly biggest). More of a publicity/guinese book stunt than real help.

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  3. Cricket is like a stopper on top of a preasure cooker. Can it cook is the question asked ? obviously No. But it does take the steam out and makes a little contribution towards increased safety. It lets people vent out there frustration in a less dangerous environment.

    Lets say, cricket is a sport like ping pong. Its not expected to do everything which our inept babus, netas and media could not do in the last 50 years.

    I would prefer celebrating pongal the way pongal ought to be celebrated when I am in the south. When I am in the north it is lohri/makar sankranthi. I think that is the way we ought to be. India was never, is not and can never be one homogenous society. Its not a melting pot but a mossaic of different cultures. If we cant respect that character, it is better to have 23 nations than one.


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