THERE have been boycotts of racially discriminating nations even on the playing field in the past, but never was it ever contemplated that sportsmen and musicians would be made a target by the politically jaundiced leadership within segments of the so-called global village; the shrinking world where one expects one and all to converge to reciprocate for mutual development and well-being rather than spout venom and hatred against each other. This was a segment of Societies recognized worldwide as ambassadors of peace and co-existence bringing peoples of the world closer together where wars, diplomacy and statesmanship have failed,
India known as a great democracy, has ascribed to itself the singular distinction of targeting these ambassadors of peace and harmony, in a freak attempt to camouflage its political faux pas and military debacles as a consequence of widening unrest within the Brahman State through discriminatory treatment of its various components, but more specifically genocide in its occupied territory of Kashmir which it is desperately trying to hold on, in the face of mass uprising spearheaded by the present generation of Kashmiris. Eating a humble pie on the diplomatic front for a change, the so-called great democracy of world has chosen to target most harmless of all species of mankind; namely sportsmen and performing artistes.
Indian history of recrimination against the Pakistan and its sportsmen and musicians is not a new development but dates fairly back, although the in-built hatred has surfaced only recently. Pakistani Cricketers who had become the most exciting team after the once upon a time great West Indies, riding its glory at the beginning of the current century, has been made to struggle on the international scene ever since the attack on the visiting Sri Lankan team way back in 2009 after it had refused to oblige Indian request to cancel its tour of Pakistan. My gut feeling is that the gory act was planned and staged to teach the Sri Lankans a message and divest Pakistan of its rightful place among cricketing Nations through a conspiracy, by the same forces which were even now hedging behind excuses not to face it in the playing field.
Not resting at getting Pakistan stripped of hosting International teams, it drafted bookies to lure the devastating rising Pakistani cricketers, opener Salman Butt, and pace sensations Mohammed Asif and Mohammed Aamir whom India had started to dread on the field. They succeeded in getting the trio framed through a sting Operation by an Indian Agent and penalized by the ICC getting them off the circuit in 2010-11. Back at the start of the much touted Indian Premier League, as another Pakistani pacer Sohail Tanvir bagged most wickets and became the Bowler of the Tournament, it was the end of Pakistani players drafting into IPL on one pretext or the other. Their participation was made impossible as they were hounded and humiliated off the field by Indian authorities and subsequently never drafted into the tournament again till date.
The Indian Cricket Board which had inched into the ICC, eventually conspired to make a ‘Big Three’ conglomerate in the world of Cricket teaming with England and Australia in 2014 and started to dictate terms. That the BCCI is on the receiving end today being in disarray due financial bungling and its kingpins framed and penalized is another matter, but the dirty role of the Body and lately highly biased diatribe by some Indian players against Pakistan to cover up for Indian Political leadership’s latest genocide in occupied Kashmir and the Uri garrison attack fiasco promptly blamed on Pakistan falling flat on its face, has ever since refused to submit to an International probe, further exposing the Baniya mindset.
Despite unrelenting scheming of detractors attempting to isolate Pakistani Cricket from the rest of the world just as Indian dream of Politically isolating Pakistan, the cricketing Nation has stayed focused slowly but surely climbing back, and it is no small achievement that despite being denied home series with visiting International teams Pakistan was able to occupy the top ICC Ranking spot in Test cricket, which is no small achievement.
At the domestic level since then, various games including cricket have been popularised pulling crowds and proving that Pakistan against all negative propaganda, was a safe country for sportsmen to visit and play in complete security. International Wrestling, Snooker, Tennis and Kabaddi tournaments were followed by Zimbabwe Cricketers who took the initiative and played a Series in Pakistan breaking the ice. Meanwhile, Pakistan Television pulled off another scoop by drafting celebrity cricketers from all over the world to stand in to the PTV panel offering expert comments and analysis on home and away Series between Pakistan and other cricketing Nations. On another plank, Pakistan has just finished drafting players into the 2nd Edition of Pakistan Premier League in which several outstanding International players are figuring with the promise to hold the final in Pakistan’s historical City of Lahore.
Ironical is it not, that in the backdrop of international commotion today, Army Contingents from 16 Nations whose normal call of duty is to defend their frontiers, have chosen to participate in the first ever International Physical Agility and Combat Efficiency System (PACES) Championship, being sponsored by the Pakistan Armed Forces in Pakistan, and are thoroughly enjoying the interaction, in contrast to political leadership of some countries breathing fire against each other when they should be making peace and promoting understanding among themselves. The participating Countries besides Pakistan include Britain, China, US, Australia, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Kazakhastan, Jordan, Malaysia, Maldives, Bahrain, Bangladesh and Indonesia. Not that Indians have fared any better with Pakistani sportsmen in other disciplines in recent times refusing or delaying Visas for them to participate in Indian-hosted events, they are on record having deliberately hounded and embarrassed Musicians like Rahat Fateh Ali and Ghulam Ali often cancelling their concerts. The Indian cricketers blindly joining the sinister blame-Pakistan chorus of their political leadership, have refused to play against Pakistan while their Government has banned Pakistani Actors and Musicians from appearing in Indian movies and functions besides banning Pakistani movies in India.
Modi and Company in doing so believe that they would succeed in convincing the world that its tough attitude towards Pakistan was a consequence of Pakistan-sponsored terrorism against India, whereas despite its foul-mouthing and crying wolf against Pakistan vowing to isolate it in the world, the converse has been proven to be true. India has not only itself engaged in State sponsored terrorism which it has openly admitted covertly destabilizing Pakistan since its role in raising Mukti Bahini in East Pakistan, incontrovertibly proven particularly after arrest of its serving Naval officer Kalbhoshan in Balochistan and his startling revelations assigning far more to Indian operations than those imagined against Pakistan. Intolerance being an understatement, the world of sports and entertainment hitherto considered to be building bridges, removing misunderstandings and serving as ambassadors of peace between hostile countries, have also been stigmatised and compromised by the bigoted approach and attitude of India.
—The writer is a media professional, member of Pioneering team of PTV and a veteran former Director of programmes.