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CWC 2011: Indo-Pak Semifinal at Mohali Sets the Stage for Cricket Diplomacy

Dr. Manmohan Singh
Dr. Manmohan SinghDaniel Berehulak/Getty Images
Linus FernandesAnalyst IIMarch 26, 2011

Cricket diplomacy is back.

An Indo-Pak semifinal in a World Cup is a momentous occasion. It warrants an attempt to bring the two nations closer.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh may be besieged by the multiple scandals hitting his beleaguered government, but he has not forgotten how to make a grand gesture.

The reticent Indian leader has taken a leaf from his predecessor’s (Atal Behari Vajpayee) handbook and extended an invitation to Pindi’s PM Yousuf Raza Gilani and President Asif Ali Zardari to watch the high voltage game at Mohali on Wednesday, March 30, 2011.

Will this improve relations between the two countries? Your guess is as good as mine.

It is the first rule of diplomacy that communication channels should always be kept open. Dr. Singh has not gone wrong there.

Cricket diplomacy has usually been the gambit used by Pakistan’s military leaders, notably Generals Zia Ul Haq and Pervez Musharraf.

The fact that Team India are favourites in a crucial knockout game is probably not lost on the PM’s office.

The reaction to the PM’s move in the India media has been mostly laudatory.

HawkEye by Gaurav C. Sawant has a different take.

Sawant believes that it should have been the Pakistani Army chief of staff Ashfaq Pervez Kayani who should have been invited over. It is a reminder of who really wields power in India’s northwest neighbour.

As of now, it appears that only Gilani will take up the Indian PM’s offer.

An Internet joke doing the rounds quotes the Pakistani president as responding to Mr. Singh’s gesture with a question: Will Sarah Palin be there?

The Pakistani media has termed the initiative “Aman ka chakka” or “sixer for peace.”

Will this add to the pressure on the two sides? Your guess, again, is as good as mine.


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