March 10, 2016 3:01:08 pm
OK, so who had the widest grin and the last laugh in this whole India-Pakistan-Dharamsala ‘drama’?
I’m thinking it must be those two chappies from Pakistan, who were sent across for a paid holiday in the hills.
Sure, they could have been provided a tad friendlier transport than the bench seats of a Border Security Force jeep when they crossed the Atari border, but then, must have been quite a trip, staring at the sensational Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association stadium at the foothills of the Dhauladhar Ranges.
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The other folks smiling a crooked smile would be Shahryar Khan and the Pakistan Cricket Board boys. Must be such joy for them, to make noise about security issues in a country other than their own.
Then of course there would be the political leadership in our neighbourly regions, who will be laughing into the night as they watch the Indian Government, the Board of Control for Cricket in India and certain Members of Parliament fidget as they wipe the collective egg of their faces.
Maybe Sourav Ganguly can be allowed a little smile for getting the big one as Cricket Association of Bengal boss. But he’ll hide it carefully.
The Congress boys would be smiling too, since they sure would love to cock a snook at the BJP, on any subject.
But after the smiles have evaporated, one would surely appreciate how unfunny the whole thing really is.
What a combination of ridiculous situations this is. Firstly, Anurag Thakur sends one of the touchiest games in the sport to Dharamsala, an erstwhile sleepy hill town which changed dramatically once it became the residence of the Dalai Lama.
But whatever the progress there, the town isn’t a place where India should be playing Pakistan.
Then we have the Congress-led state government, one would assume under instructions from the high command in Delhi, decided to show young Thakur the consequences of challenging Rahul Gandhi or Jyotiraditya Scindia in Parliament.
The ironies are many. We all know how the political parties lined up in the Jawaharlal Nehru University imbroglio in Delhi, so it was ironic that parties that were lining up on one side of the argument here, were on the opposite side in Dharamshala.
Anyhow, the sum total was that this political battle, under the guise of security for the Pakistan team in the face of protests by certain groups in Himachal Pradesh left us looking rather silly.
Pakistan must have been over the moon when this whole thing snowballed. Finally, they had India in a corner!
Most of the time, it’s like a Bollywood plot. Pakistan tries all sorts of approaches, be it in international platforms like the United Nations or international matches like the Asia Cup. But always, it is India that emerges righteous and victorious.
But now they had an ironclad opportunity to take India to the cleaners. Then it all boiled down predictably.
As of last reports on Wednesday night, the contest had been shifted to Eden Gardens in Kolkata, leaving Thakur fuming and the Government embarrassed.
But that isn’t the end of it.
There have been instances in the past when teams have sent security teams to countries planning to host them. But it has largely been dependent on who was on a steadier financial wicket.
England had sent a team to India some years ago, and then India returned the compliment. Noticeably, India were not financially at its strongest in the first instance, while England really needed the moolah the second time around.
Pakistan cricket has been in desperate situations financially for over a decade and have consistently been forced to eat humble pie, in terms of being in the wilderness in terms of lack of home games and having to share revenues for what are perceived to be home series.
But here, after a very long time, Pakistan is the star of the show, and like any diva the country and the PCB are playing it to the hilt.
One can almost hear them singing, “Mauka! Mauka!” Quite a qawwali that would make.
As for us, we were left looking like two batsmen stranded in the middle of the pitch.
It would probably be too much to expect that a political party, any party, would put national pride or image ahead of political agenda, leanings, or even vendetta.
So when the Indian security situation was questioned by a nation that had no real business doing so, there were no answers. In truth, there really was no situation – it was just thrown in the air. Pakistan has played in Dharamshala before and there never was a problem.
But what it did was made India look bad on the world stage and subsequently we had to face and digest some tantrums from Pakistan, who ideally should be thankful to get any cricket at all.
Then there are the fans. Always the last consideration on everyone’s chart. Many have booked tickets for the match, including plenty from abroad. Now all plans will have to be altered at best and cancelled at worst.
So it wasn’t funny, after all, irrespective of what the two chappies who crossed Atari may think. It was a travesty and an insult.
Sadly, it was self-inflicted.
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