In an act of defiance before the Pulwama attack on the Indian army, an official in Pakistan had claimed Pakistan would raise their own game such that India would come knocking, asking to play in Pakistan. However, while the Pakistan Cricket Board and the Pakistan community may be dreaming of a tantalizing Indo-Pak contest, the idea of resumption of tours and talks just got longer.

The stunning jolt to the Indian army last week put paid to any conciliatory efforts of mending bridges with Pakistan. The ghastly attack that claimed the lives of the Indian soldiers created an atmosphere of such grief, anger and dismay that in such an atmosphere, it was hard to even entertain the notion that India would be contemplating the idea of resumption of bilateral tours or envision themselves touring Pakistan, let alone allow the Pakistan cricket team to come to India, even at a later date given the current scenario and atmosphere and the respective governments at a standoff.

Those that thought that the ascension of Imran Khan, the former Pakistan captain who took Pakistan to their first ICC World Cup in 1992, to the role of Pakistan’s Prime Minister would ease tensions and pave way for improving relations, not to mention resumption of cricket between the two nations, were given a reality check when not only was the state sponsored terrorism continuing to wreak havoc on its own soil but also, continuing to perpetuate divisive and destructive activities across state borders. With militancy being a critical issue that has made the state of Jammu and Kashmir volatile with incursions and terrorist activities, even the idea of Imran Khan at the helm failed to assuage thoughts that things would only more difficult with the Pakistan army largely in control and not the Prime Minister per se.

The words by Wasim Khan and Ehsan Mani, who is the current Pakistan Cricket Board chairman, about raising the level of Pakistan cricket to the point where India would be soliciting opportunities to play Pakistan seems not only ironic but also, the prospect bleak given the political and emotional volatility in the region, particularly in the aftermath of this dastardly act. Furthermore, with Cricket Australia rejecting the offer to tour Pakistan for part of its tour has compounded matters because it continues to isolate Pakistan on the world stage.

The idea of Pakistan claiming compensation for lack of bilateral tours and for being sidelined was, also, shot down recently and it is unlikely that India will take a more lenient stand any time soon when it comes to resumption of cricket which seems now to have been firmly consigned to the backburner with bigger issues dominating the agenda with regards to the affairs of both nations.

Pakistan’s cricketers have not enjoyed an easy time playing away from home, caught in turmoil of their own and also, with the terrorist attacks in Mumbai in 2008 which not only sealed Pakistan cricketers’ participation to play in India, but also, isolated Pakistan as India cancelled the bilateral tour home and away thereafter. The terrorists ambush on the Sri Lankan team thereafter in Lahore outside the cricket grounds sealed Pakistan’s fate and with this latest, most obvious hand in the state sponsored terrorism playing havoc with the youth of Kashmir and causing grave damage to the Indian army, withholding cricket is the least of India’s policies on a bureaucratic level, throwing a spanner in the works of those harbouring ideas of the resumption of the mouthwatering bilateral contests which now seems like a thing of the past.

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