Keep sports away from politics, pleads former cricketers

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Former cricket players from Pakistan and India have spoken out in support of separating the politics and diplomatic relations between the two nations from the cricketing ties they share. Pakistan and India have had an oft-strained relationship in practically every arena, from politics to sports. The cricketing relations between both nations took a nosedive following the 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai, which led to a complete freeze in diplomatic ties, subsequently bringing bilateral sporting ties to a halt.
The last series between the two teams was played in 2007, after which they have only met in tournaments such as the ICC World Cup 2011, and the Asia Cup which was held earlier this year, in March. Pakistan players have been barred from the Indian Premier League, and the security concerns in the country, which came to light after the visiting Sri Lanka team became the target of a terrorist attack in 2009, have made it impossible for the PCB to convince the Men In Blue to tour the country.
The heavy role politics plays in determining the sporting relations between the two nations, and the manner in which a minor political upheaval can mar the bilateral ties between the two countries has been severely criticised by former players.
“How many times are we going to make cricket an excuse for tensions on the border? … the leadership of both nations should come together and solve the issues diplomatically … political tensions can be taken care of by the leadership of two great nations, but cricket should continue as usual,” said former Pakistan player Mohsin Khan.
Former Indian pacer Karsan Ghavri expressed similar opinions, saying the game should ideally be divorced from politics entirely. “Cricket has nothing to do with politics. The diplomatic relations can be looked after by the diplomats, but as far as cricket is concerned, we have had some memorable moments not only on the field, but even off it,” said Ghavri. “There have been great ambassadors of the game from both India and Pakistan.” The relations between the two nations have shown an upward trend in the past few months, with the BCCI having allowed Pakistan’s domestic T20 team, the Sialkot Stallions to participate in the upcoming Champions League, while PCB chairman Zaka Ashraf was also invited to India for the IPL final which took place in Chennai on May 27. The most recent developments involve talks of a one-off match to be played between the two teams, scheduled to take place later this year.