Sir — Every cricket match between India and Pakistan is traditionally seen as a sort of ‘war’ by citizens of the two countries (“Do not term it as war: Intikhab”, March 27). As such, it is indeed a wrong ploy to give too much importance to the world cup semi-final in Mohali. The Indian prime minister, who avoided the 34th National Games held recently in Ranchi, shouldn’t have decided to go and watch the match. He should have considered it to be yet another game of cricket.
Likewise, his decision to invite the prime minister of Pakistan is uncalled for. Indians will interpret a defeat at the hands of Pakistan in the presence of dignitaries from across the border as a diplomatic gift to Pakistani leaders. The prime minister should cancel his visit to Mohali on the pretext of ‘urgent’ work.
Subhash Chandra Agrawal, Dariba, Delhi
Sir — By inviting his Pakistani counterpart to witness the world cup semi-final, Manmohan Singh has shown, once again, that he is a strict proponent of Gandhian principles. After all, the Father of the Nation was known for his lenient views on Pakistan.
Jorhat Singh, Mumbai
Sir — The optimistic views expressed in the editorial, “Come watch the players”, (March 27) encapsulate the wishes of millions of Indians who have always been in favour of peaceful co-existence with their brethren across the border. But it is difficult to accept the opinion that “there is no embedded hostility between the countries”. This is because India’s sincere attempts to foster a sense of amity have been construed as a sign of weakness and reciprocated with direct or covert hostility. Moreover, the editorial’s comparison of the battle on the 22 yards with that of the Kargil War has undermined the sacrifice of those bravehearts who died while protecting the sovereignty of our motherland. However, it is heartening to learn that almost every Indian has received generous hospitality in Pakistan. Indians will continue to harbour the long cherished dream of cementing bilateral ties with their valued neighbour, while keeping intact the country’s record against Pakistan in the world cup.
Indranil Banerjee, Calcutta
Sir — Imran Khan is absolutely right in his assessment of India-Pakistan relations (“Imran weighs invite impact”, March 27). Both countries have a tacit understanding of keeping the chief dispute — the Kashmir problem — alive. This is because it is more profitable to sustain, rather than resolve, the Kashmir conundrum. This was made evident the first time at Tashkent where we surrendered to Pakistan our superior military gains of the 1965 war. It was further consolidated at Shimla where the spoils of a spectacular military victory secured by our armed forces were nullified by India’s political class. Had this not been the case, the Kashmir problem would have been settled on India’s terms, once and for all.
The government’s recent decision to ease visa norms will enhance the threat of terrorists visiting India in the guise of spectators. India has already agreed to restart the stalled dialogue with Pakistan despite the terrorist strikes in Kashmir. Ever since Independence, India’s policy has ended up handing Pakistan the advantage on account of the compulsions of vote- bank politics.
Jayanta Kumar Dutt, Calcutta
Sir — The invitation extended to Pakistan’s premier to watch the world cup semi-final at Mohali alongside the Indian prime minister is the best way to ease strained ties. The think tanks of the two nations need to be congratulated for envisaging this diplomatic initiative. Sport has, time and again, acted as a timely balm, bringing the people of the two nations closer. Such matches — be it in hockey or cricket — are fiercely competed and a defeat in such encounters is considered to be a national calamity. But when one of the two nations lock horns with a third country, the other country supports its neighbour.
One still has fond memories of Pakistanis celebrating the success of Kapil’s Devils in the 1983 World Cup. Strangely though, such bonhomie has never resulted in the creation of friendly ties. Perhaps politics and diplomacy are responsible for generating mistrust in the minds of the people. Sporting events need to be seen as tools to bring about peace. Let us then hail ‘cricket diplomacy’.
Pachu Menon, Goa