The Oxford dictionary defines war as an aggression or hostile contentiousness through arms carried between two or more states, nations or rulers. But when the same word is used in cricket, it means an intense battle fought with bats and balls on a 22 yard pitch. Whenever there is a cricket match, the ardent fans watch every ball keenly while rooting for their home team. Cricket may be just a game in other countries but for people of India and Pakistan, including Kashmiris, it is more of a religion. Every match between these two countries is a mega event.
After the partition of 1947, which give birth to two separate nations and two new ideologies, both countries we involved in bitter warfare and the situation was very tense. However, as cricket started becoming popular in the two countries, the situation started to change. The first cricket match between the two countries was played in 1951. In 1954, when India toured Pakistan for the first time, cricket had improved the relations between the two nations to a large extent. Unfortunately, due to the wars of 1965 and 1971, cricket ties between the two were severed. Slowly in 1977-78, matches between the two nations started to be played once more but now, every match was more intense and heated because distrust and huge aberrance had spread its roots between the two countries. Each country wanted to dominate the other not only politically and economically but in sports, especially cricket, as well.
Kashmir conflict too got a new dimension due to cricket. For the suppressed Kashmiris, cricket was a way of showing their love for Pakistan. Every cricket match between India and Pakistan sees Pakistani flags being unfurled in Kashmir. Kashmiris, being an emotional lot, have deep sentiments related with cricket. Despite decades of struggle, this love has only grown. Kashmiris have had to bear the brunt of angry Indian fans every now and then like the students who were expelled for cheering for Pakistan’s victory against India in the 2013 Asia cup at Swami Vivekananda Subharti University in Meerat.
Cricket, as history has proven, can be used as a bridge to better the relations between the two countries. It should not be riddled with politics and used as a gimmick to further the divide between the two countries. Cricket should be seen as a step to bring the people of the two countries together. It should be enjoyed as a game where there can only be one winner.
To conclude, I would say that we have seen incalculable bloodshed and miserable days and nights. It is time to abnegate the unfounded offensive narratives between the two nations. We should encourage both India and Pakistan to have good relations between each other. Cricket can play a very good role in establishing a partnership based on respect and trust. Moreover, cricket diplomacy will encourage both countries to solve their bilateral issues through peaceful means.
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