Islamabad, March 27 (IANS) The Manmohan Singh-Yousuf Raza Gilani talks that “take place between overs” during the India-Pakistan cricket match in Mohali could pave the way for “far more meaningful efforts” towards peace in the subcontinent, a Pakistani daily said.
The editorial appeared in the News International Sunday, a day when Gilani accepted the invitation from Manmohan Singh to watch the match at Mohali on Wednesday.
The editorial said: “Sometimes sport serves a purpose far beyond what can be expected. The invitation extended by Manmohan Singh to his Pakistani counterpart Gilani and President Asif Zardari to come across the border to watch India take on Pakistan in the World Cup semi-final at Mohali is the latest chapter in a history of cricketing diplomacy that stretches back to the 1980s.”
“A window of opportunity has opened up to put relations between India and Pakistan back on track. Diplomacy on the cricket field may also offer a chance to the Indian prime minister to get even with the hawks in his own government who oppose dialogue with Pakistan.”
It went on to say that “the talks which take place between overs on a cricket ground may not in themselves be very substantial”.
“But they could pave the way for far more meaningful efforts to move toward cooperation and peace in the future. This is something the region desperately needs to ease the numerous tensions that exist at present and to end the violence that comes with them.
“The cricket World Cup could then prove very important to the future of the subcontinent and all the people who live in it. Diplomacy based around cricket in the past has often proved to be a success. We hope this will be the case this time too.”
Stating that love for the sport unites the people of both countries, the daily said that Manmohan Singh’s offer “could serve to help ease the tensions that have persisted for too many years now”.
“Even though the cricketing contest will bring much of the patriotic fervour that marks all contests between Pakistan and India, it could also help create the friendship that is so badly needed. In more ways than one, this is vital for the future of both countries and their people.”
Noting that the offer from Singh “comes among other gestures of friendship”, the editorial observed: “More security has been promised to the Pakistani team and the visa process for Pakistani fans hoping to make it to Mohali has been eased. These may seem like small steps, but they are important ones.”
The match in Mohali will be held a day after home secretary-level talks between the two countries March 28-29.