Editorial - Enticing invitation - Sunday, March 27, 2011

Source : http://thenews.com.pk/TodaysPrintDetail.aspx?ID=38416&Cat=8

Sometimes sport serves a purpose far beyond what can be expected. The invitation extended by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to his Pakistani counterpart, Yusuf Raza Gilani and President Asif Zardari to come across the border to watch India take on Pakistan in the World Cup semi-final at Mohali is the latest chapter in a history of cricketing diplomacy that stretches back to the 1980s. Love for the sport unites the people of both countries. It is just one of the things they have in common, and the offer from Mr Singh could serve to help ease the tensions that have persisted for too many years now. Even though the cricketing contest will bring much of the patriotic fervour that marks all contests between Pakistan and India, it could also help create the friendship that is so badly needed. In more ways than one, this is vital for the future of both countries and their people.

We must therefore hope that Mr Gilani will make the trip to Mohali. The offer from Mr Singh comes among other gestures of friendship. More security has been promised to the Pakistani team and the visa process for Pakistani fans hoping to make it to Mohali has been eased. These may seem like small steps, but they are important ones. A window of opportunity has opened up to put relations between India and Pakistan back on track. Diplomacy on the cricket field may also offer a chance to the Indian prime minister to get even with the hawks in his own government who oppose dialogue with Pakistan. The talks which take place between overs on a cricket ground may not in themselves be very substantial. But they could pave the way for far more meaningful efforts to move toward cooperation and peace in the future. This is something the region desperately needs to ease the numerous tensions that exist at present and to end the violence that comes with them. The cricket World Cup could then prove very important to the future of the subcontinent and all the people who live in it. Diplomacy based around cricket in the past has often proved to be a success. We hope this will be the case this time too. 

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