Politics December 2, 2008

United we stand

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