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December 2, 2008

Politics

United we stand

Kamran Abbasi
Mahendra Singh Dhoni gets in line to collect a ball after Shoaib Malik leaves it, India v Pakistan, 5th ODI, Jaipur, November 18, 2007
 © AFP
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Cricket is a shared love of the people of South Asia but we share much more than cricket. I say this on my return from a conference of the South Asian Health Foundation, a UK charitable organisation that seeks to improve the health of the South Asian community. It is an organisation that I am fond of, and not just because I am one of the patrons. Each gathering includes many representatives of all South Asian nations and religions, yet we are never divided by nationality or religion. Instead, we stand united in seeking a better life for people who share our background.

This easy unity fills me with hope that even this horrendous week cannot destroy what the people of South Asia share, for what we have in common far outweighs our differences. Outside the fevered atmosphere of South Asia, the passion that surrounds those differences seems nonsensical and horribly misguided. Indeed, all South Asian nations are now victims of barbaric violence. We fight a common enemy: the murderers who seek to divide us.

What has cricket to do with this? Everything. Cricket, as my friend Saad Shafqat once wrote, is the magic glue that binds South Asia. It is a shared passion and pleasure in a region that is consumed by an overwhelming misery. Cricket has helped intitiate dialogue and collaboration on previous occasions when war was looming--and we must cling to every prospect of dialogue and collaboration because a conflict between nuclear neighbours brings the dread of unthinkable consequences.

Hence, I add my voice to the passion of Javed Miandad and the wisdom of Sambit Bal. India's upcoming tour of Pakistan, far from being an irrelevance, is fundamental to the dialogue and collaboration that will defeat those who seek to plunge the region into a devastating conflict.

The tour should go ahead. United we stand, divided we are lost.

Kamran Abbasi is an editor, writer and broadcaster. He tweets here

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Keywords: Politics

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Posted by Faridoon on (December 6, 2008, 8:10 GMT)

Cricket does seem trivial at this juncture. However, I imagine the success of a terrorist attack is gauged beyond the number of people killed. It is gauged by how far it disrupts the lives of people. Hence, it is improtant to show the terrorists that we continue on with our normal lives in spite of their most malicious actions. And this has to be done in all walks of life, including sport.

England should play the test series in India. India should undertake a full tour of Pakistan.

These attacks are a blatant attempt to divide us. There can be no better riposte than joining hands instead.

I wish both governments would make better media stance. Instead of statements like "We are waiting for them to give us proof" and "We are waiting for them to take action" they should be telling the world how well they are working together on investigating the matter. How unfortunate that people like Sambit and Kamran are not our leaders.

Posted by Imz on (December 6, 2008, 3:33 GMT)

Ray - Consider this, you can be blamed for the upbringing for your son, but can you just go out and kill him for being a hooligan?

Also is it really all your fault when he has been spoilt more by your friends (Saudi Arabia, U.S., etc.. during and post the Russian invasion). Now when those same people point fingers at you for some of their own faults you are left in a very delicate position... Do you favor your son despite him being wrong or do you side with your "righteous" friends? However, I can assure you Pakistan is doing all it can to defeat the "infidels" (terrorists). It is not a job that can be done overnight otherwise the mighty U.S. would have been done with Afghanistan and Iraq by now and turned its attention completely to North Korea and Iran. There is no agenda which keeps counts of the brave soldiers that lost their lives on the border or during Lal Masjid siege, but too many lives have been lost yet we keep fighting. I hope I answered all your questions.

Posted by Omair on (December 6, 2008, 3:32 GMT)

I request all the participants to please keep the comments to cricket.

Posted by Imz on (December 6, 2008, 3:15 GMT)

Gautam, apology accepted, i understand your frustration completely. As for those creating havoc are not always pakistani, there are Afghans and believe it or not Indians involved as well. They have been brainwashed to the extent they cannot judge humane from inhumane. As for saner voices taking over, it is hard to determine which voice is sane which isn't. When Musharraf was in power, everyone opposed seemed sane, now Zardari in power Musharraf looked saner. Welcome to Pakistani politics. We need a few decades of democratic gov'ts before we can have a real stable and purposeful gov't. The sane people at the moment are more worried about bringing food to their table and their safety then take part in a process which could further endanger their lives. Think calmly and answer me, Will waging war against Pakistan make you any safer? How did people from Pakistan reach your port in a boat with weapons? Perhaps your anger would be better directed at your gov't till full evidence is revealed

Posted by StaniArmy on (December 5, 2008, 19:11 GMT)

Thanks Ray for you open-mindedness which is missing from so many angry Indians that are quick to blame Pakistan.In reply to your camps question. 1stly, its not as simple as "theres a terrorist camp, let's close it down".The social infrastructure in Pakistan is very fragmented - this will take decades to change & needs a stable governmnt which we want but we haven’t had for years.Also,the border with Afghanistan is very mountainous & porous so is very difficult to control.With those things in mind it is very difficult to hunt out these people who can move very easily.You can’t say that we are doing nothing about it.When people like Vikram ask "what have you done to stop terrorism?"..you wonder where he has been since 9/11. Which country has done more than us even with so much against it? Bhutto was assassinated; the Marriott was bombed yet some short sighted Indians still think Pakistanis or Muslims are responsible?There are as many Muslims in India as there are in Pakistan - fact.

Posted by John on (December 5, 2008, 9:05 GMT)

People sometime say no to knee jerk reaction. I say no to knee jerk comments either. Just take time out. We can't find solutions or answers at one go. Time out gives people to reflect and get pass the boil point. The knee jerk reaction of the English cricketers is understandable. It's human nature. What they need is time to reflect what this is all about. I am pretty sure given the chance to time out they will come back. The same applies to the Indians right now and any one of us in our daily lives. Hope all this make sense. Sometimes you learn these things when you hit your forties. Young Blood is too hot to handle. Sports is I guess is one of the outlets for them to boil.

Posted by Gautam on (December 5, 2008, 6:23 GMT)

Dear Imz, No I am not dyslexic, and apologies for spelling Pakistan incorrectly. The other half is only a manner of speech, I am aware that by and large Pakistanis are a peace loving people no different from us, however the section which creates this type of havoc engages our collective conscience to the extent that it seems more than half. My piece only reflects the frustration towards the fact that we are not able to engage in the manner we should, but in all fairness I hope you would agree that it is essential for the Saner voices of Pakistan to take control and defeat the evil.

Posted by Imz on (December 5, 2008, 1:58 GMT)

Anwar Thair is absolutely correct, it was negligence from pakistan as well for letting these "mujahideens" into pakistan after the war, while the west was giving them more than just moral support. Which is why it is so complicated, India must realize that removing these training camps is not that easy there is the possibility of a civil war erupting due to this. The nation splits, and i wonder how safe Indians would feel having an NWFP and Baluchistan not under a gov't based in Punjab.

Gautam, do you have dyslexia or you just did not feel necessary to spell "Pakistan" properly? And also "the other half" implies that half the people are terrorists. Clearly not the case so please show a little more respect.

Perhaps cricket should not be discussed right now, nobody is thinking about cricket, 183 people have lost their lives, let's show them some respect please. The tour should go ahead eventually but it should be hosted by both countries, a test in Mumbai, Karachi, and Abu Dhabi each.

Posted by Farooq on (December 4, 2008, 22:32 GMT)

Hatred is the cause of this. Should we postpone the series then we will practically be handing the victory to the terrorists. But should we let this go on, it may be dangerous but at least it will show that we aren't afraid of these cowards. Cricket is the common factor in South Asia. Take it out of the equation and we get Hatred. Postponing this series will evidently mean the division of India and Pakistan even further. I dont believe this is the answer. Lets all unite and let those cowards know we will not stand for this horrific killing of a large number of the population!!!

Posted by waterbuffalo on (December 4, 2008, 19:33 GMT)

"International Sport is war without the bullets"-George Orwell. He said this more than 50 years ago, and it is more true today than it has ever been. Can you imagine the masses in India reacting to an LBW dismissal of Tendulkar or Dhoni? The only way the series will be seen as a triumph of peace building is if the Indians beat Pakistan comfortably (which may very well happen).

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kamran Abbasi
Kamran Abbasi is an editor, writer and broadcaster. He was the first Asian columnist for Wisden Cricket Monthly and wisden.com. Kamran is the editor of the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine. @KamranAbbasi

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