India has called for terror-sponsoring Pakistan to be banished from the World Cup. The ICC banning India instead for being a bully would be a massive misadventure.
After MyNation reported that India will call for Pakistan to be banned from the 2019 World Cup for bringing about the Pulwama massacre, and its general support for terror, there are now reports that the International Cricket Council (ICC) may instead ban India for being overbearing and a bully. It may jeopardise India's chances of hosting the 2021 Champions Trophy and 2023 World Cup.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has already 'suspended' India as a host of all global Olympic sporting events after Pakistani shooters were not granted visas for the World Cup in New Delhi. The IOC also revoked the Olympic qualification status of the men's 25m rapid fire pistol event at the New Delhi World Cup.
The question is, can the ICC dare to take such a knee-jerk decision to hurt India instead of the 'sponsor of terror' — Pakistan? Will the ICC be foolhardy to go ahead with a World Cup without India? Is it that naive to say that cricket and politics are like oil and water and don't mix? Will it not commit a harakiri and also kill the game for good in the process by banishing the most popular and certainly, at the moment, the strongest cricket country?
Does the ICC not realise that banning the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) will amount to the game losing all its sheen? There will be no takers, cricket will be reduced to a pathetic, meaningless exercise. Who would possibly be interested in watching, for example, Sri Lanka vs New Zealand, or indeed a West Indies vs Bangladesh?
Former India captain Sourav Ganguly feels India should sever all sporting ties with the hostile neighbour. "And whatever reactions came from the people of India...was right. There is no chance of a bilateral series with Pakistan after this incident. I agree that after this attack, India should not only stop playing cricket, hockey or football with Pakistan but should cut all ties with them," Ganguly said.
"I feel it will be really difficult for ICC to go on with a World Cup without India. But, you also have to see if India has the power to stop ICC from doing such a thing. But, personally I feel a strong message should be sent," the Prince of Calcutta added.
SYMBOLIC PROTESTS WON'T DO ANYMORE
The question asked by many is whether banning Pakistan from the World Cup would solve any purpose and would it not be better to play Pakistan instead and beat them, which would be the seventh time India would do so at World Cups, without even dropping a game. Will that not send a stronger message?
However, that will be only symbolic. We have exploited that option for a long time already. India have played Pakistan in the World Cup in England even while the Kargil war was at its height in 1999. But that has borne no fruit. It is now time to give it back hard and one big option is to ensure the terror-sponsoring country gets banished from the World Cup.
Here is a counter question to all those who want India to play against Pakistan in the World Cup and give a 'riposte' for the Pulwama attacks by defeating Pakistan and may be contribute to its ouster through strictly sporting means: let's say India beats Pakistan, which, given the stark difference in strength of the two sides, Virat Kohli and Co should be able to do with ease. But will THAT serve any purpose? Will that humiliate and embarrass Pakistan in a manner that it stops nourishing terrorists? Certainly not. What is the need of the hour is a slap across the face and getting Pakistan banned from the showpiece quadrennial cricket event would be a step in that direction.
Does the ICC have the courage to ban India which is not only the biggest money-spinner (it brings the highest viewership revenues)? Considering India's financial clout and the quality of the game it offers, banning it would be downright suicidal. As it is, only about a handful of countries play the game seriously, and only 10 of them are part of the upcoming World Cup. Banning India would be banning the best of the lot.
PAKISTAN A TERRORIST NATION
On the contrary, the cricketing world would not lose much by banning Pakistan. It is a country which is the hub of match-fixing, the captain of their cricket team, who is supposed to be an ambassador for his country, Sarfraz Ahmed, has proven himself to be a racist by abusing South Africa's Andile Phehlukwayo for his skin colour, it is a country marred by corruption, terrorism (remember the attack on the Sri Lankan team in 2009 in Lahore?), it is financially unattractive and suffers from a dearth of cricket talent to match India at the moment.
If Pakistan can be banned as a venue, it can very well be banned as a participating nation. If Imran Khan is asking for evidence of his nation's involvement in the Pulwama terror attack, let us ask him: isn't the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) a terror organisation housed in and nurtured by Pakistan? Wasn't it the organisation that, along with Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), was behind the attack on the Indian Parliament in 2001?
Wasn't its chief Maulana Masood Azhar one of those who had to be released in return for our citizens when the Indian Airlines flight IC-814 was hijacked and taken to Lahore and then to another terror badland, the Taliban-controlled Qandahar in Afghanistan, in 1999?
Hasn't Pakistan been providing a safe haven to Dawood Ibrahim — accused in one of the biggest terror acts on Indian soil — the Mumbai blasts of 1993?
Wasn't the Hafiz Saeed's LeT behind the ghastly 26/11 Mumbai attacks that killed over 170 people and injured more than 300 in 2008?
Wasn't the face of global terror and the mastermind of the biggest terror attack in recent memory — the 9/11 attacks in the US in 2001 — Osama bin Laden found hiding in Pakistan, in the garrison town of Abbottabad, not far from the country's main military academy and also the army headquarters at Rawalpindi? Bin Laden was hunted down by the US special forces and now, there are calls for India to hunt down the Hafiz Saeeds, Dawood Ibrahims and Masood Azhars that Pakistan is nurturing, in a similar manner.
But till that happens, we should hurt Pakistan in all other possible ways, whether it is by stopping the flow of water in the Indus and its tributaries or by bringing pressure on the ICC to throw Pakistan out of the World Cup.
While all that Pakistan has done is bungle on its so-called 'war on terror' and divert the US funds instead for building arsenal to counter India militarily, India has had a smoothly-running democracy ever since independence except a brief period during the Emergency. Pakistan, on the other hand, has been riven by coups, execution of Prime Ministers and bouts of military rule.
Neither sports nor cultural ties can go hand in hand with terrorism. Banning Pakistan from the World Cup will instead send a strong signal to the world — one cannot consider terrorism apart from cricket. Otherwise, why isn't top bracket international cricket still not being played in Pakistan since the Lahore attack in 2009?
Therefore, bilateral series between India and Pakistan, especially after the Pulwama attacks is out of question. What India should also do now is not budge from its stand of withdrawing from the World Cup unless Pakistan is kicked out.
Former India captain Sunil Gavaskar opined, “Who wins if India decides against playing Pakistan in the World Cup? And I am not even talking about the semis and the finals. Pakistan wins because they get two points. India has so far beaten Pakistan every time in a World Cup, so we are actually conceding two points... we could make sure that they don’t advance in the competition. (But) I am with the country, whatever the government decides, I am with it totally. If the country wants we shouldn’t play Pakistan, I am with them. Where does it hurt Pakistan? It hurts them when they don’t play a bilateral series against India. In a multi-team event, India will lose by not playing them... I know India are strong enough side to qualify even after conceding those two points but why not beat them and make sure they don’t qualify.”
'BOMB, BANDUK MEIN BAATCHEET SUNAYI NAHI DETI'
As Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, "Bomb, banduk mein baatcheet sunayi nahi deti (dialogue can't be heard amid the din created by guns and bombs). Terrorism should stop."
Gavaskar added, "Let me say to Imran, when you took over you said that it is going to be a new Pakistan. You said, India should take the first step and Pakistan will take two steps, but not as a politician, as an average sportsperson, I want to say to you that Pakistan is the one which should take the first step.”
Gavaskar is right and the first step for Pakistan should consist of a clampdown on terror infrastructure and the brainwashing of the youth. The Pakistan Prime Minister talking war is precisely the reason that proves Pakistan as a thug state.
INDIA TOO BIG A PLAYER TO CHASTEN
For India, national pride matters the most. Let's not forget how in 1998, the nuclear tests conducted by it had made the US and other countries impose sanctions, but in due course of time, the world community realised that India was too important a nation to be put under sanctions. When the US-India nuclear agreement had run into trouble, the US, knowing the importance of India, it had gone out of its way to get an NPT waiver so that India can access nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. It had even waived the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) burden on India for buying Triumf missiles from Russia.
The nuclear tests in 1998 were absolutely necessary given that India is encircled by two viscerally hostile neighbours and the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government had boldly gone through with it. Similarly, a bold step is required now: either get Pakistan banned from the World Cup or to withdraw from it.
Strong US ally Israel has pledged "unlimited" and "unconditional" support to "really important friend" India in war on terror. When the world community has realised India's importance, who is the ICC to ban India?
India is a big power politically, economically and certainly in cricket, and it is the responsibility of the world community to acknowledge India's genuine concerns and act accordingly. Even without signing the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), India can subsist with its head held high and the world still doesn't mind doing nuclear trade with India - a sign of the significance India commands. It is a responsible nuclear power with a 'no-first use' policy, unlike Pakistan, with which one can never be sure when the Army-ISI-terrorist nexus can arm-twist the government into pressing the nuclear button. Imran Khan, for all his machismo, is just a puppet of the unholy trinity.
Given that politics is inbuilt in sports, and given that an India versus Pakistan contest on any realm is a function of the wider diplomatic ties, which sadly are overshadowed by the spectre of terrorism, the government and BCCI should put national pride over anything else. The nation has been hurt by the Pulwama massacre, where Pakistan's backing could not have been missed. Withdrawing from the World Cup if Pakistan is not thrown out of the tournament is part of the best course of action.
Let's challenge the ICC: Ban India, and kill the World Cup. Ban India and kill cricket.
Last Updated Feb 24, 2019, 6:48 AM IST