|Pakistani fans - victims of politics and terror|
There has been no international cricket in Pakistan ever since March 2009, when the Sri Lankan cricket team was attacked at Lahore by terrorists. No team has wanted to tour the country for security reasons and rightly so, as safety always comes first. Pakistan cricket has suffered greatly in the period and its isolation has affected not only the finance of the PCB but also its fans.
The 10 day domestic T20 tournament, PSL is great for Pakistan cricket and its fans. It resembles the IPL and one of the reasons of IPL's success has been the involvement of overseas stars. However with security still a concern it is to be seen just how many foreign players do opt for the league.
The plight of the 188 million Pakistanis who love cricket has been a sad tale for the last few years. The team has performed badly, the controversies of spot-fixing has tainted their image, the various truffles and schisms between senior players and the board has left a bad taste, the international stars have been barred from playing in the Indian Premier League (which despite all the criticism is the biggest domestic T20 event in the world of cricket) and with no international cricket being played at home for almost 4 years now, the people are desperate to glimpse at a live spectacle that is a religion in the subcontinent. We saw that in October last year when a team known as International World XI, led by a retired 43 year, bald old man played against a Pakistan All Star XI in two T20s that had no official status. PCB failed to recognize the matches, but that didn't stop the Pakistani public from filling every seat, and every available space in the National Stadium at Karachi. The scenes from that series which held no relevance whatsoever showed just how much cricket meant to the Pakistani people and more so how much they miss having it in their home soil.
|PSL - Pakistan's IPL|
A recent image that went viral had the responses that various countries met out when their country is being attacked. According to the image, USA and Israel when attacked immediately would retaliate against the attackers, while India when attacked would simply stop playing cricket with the attackers (perhaps a very good reason not to attack India). Again this shows India's diplomatic relationship with Pakistan. The two countries have had a long strained relationship filled with violence and the end of that it is no where near. And while Indian cricket hasn't suffered much due to this, Pakistan cricket has, and again for no reasons of its own but because of its government and its inabilities to keep the fanatical jihad elements within it who violate the Line of Control (LoC) and infiltrate into Kashmir to cause terror. The Pakistan tour to India just last month was met with great amount of love from both sides of the border and it signaled a step forward as it was the first time a Pakistan team set foot in India for a bilateral series after the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks. The move was seen progressive for peace. But now after some inhumane acts by the Pakistani army on the LoC by beheading an Indian Jawan, violating the peace, things have gone back and it is unlikely that India will be meeting Pakistan at home for some time.
Cricket and politics are best left alone and separate, but unfortunately that is not always possible. And as much as we would like it not to, a country's politics plays a huge impact on its cricket and in Pakistan we see that and just how negative that it can be, to make the PCB and Pakistani government offer insurance money and tax free income in a bid to attract foreign players. Instead of trying to bribe players with money, the Pakistani government will do well to create a secure environment that makes players want to visit their country. After all what use is the money from insurance when you are dead? Pakistan might hate its neighbor, but it can learn a few things from India.
One of cricket's quintessential writer in 2008 wrote an article on the security issues in Pakistan and the troubles that the country faces. Gideon Haigh in the article writes,
An irreducible degree of risk will attach to any cricket tour of Pakistan, as indeed to daily life itself. For as long as that pertains, Pakistan faces competing in international cricket on an essentially part-time basis, unable, like Sri Lanka in the 1980s, to host inbound tours from non-Asian competitors, at terrible cost to local cricket and its luckless, guiltless fans.The biggest victims of Pakistan's politics, its terror infrastructure and the PCB's many schisms has been its luckless and guiltless cricket fans and one cannot help but feel sad for these hapless Pakistan fans.