Pakistan is destabilized, riddled with terrorist elements, and in possession of nukes, and not even the Dems can agree on how those problems should be handled. But perhaps there’s hope in … cricket? Here’s the Times of India on a new U.S.-hosted cricket tournament that begins in October:
Seven Pakistani players – Inzamam ul-Haq, Abdul Razzaq, Rana Naved-ul-Hasan, Imran Farhat, Imran Nazir and Saqlain Mushtaq – are said to have signed up for the new league, which will be held twice a year. In fact, the proposal APL seems to be designed to rescue Pakistani cricketers from international isolation in the face of Indian clout.
This may sound like small potatoes but after losing host status for the 2011 World Cup, Pakistan is looking for any sort of enfranchisement when it comes to the beloved sport of cricket.
Because of grave security concerns, Pakistan will host no World Cup cricket matches in 2011:
International Cricket Council president David Morgan said: “It is a regrettable decision but our priority is to deliver a safe, secure, successful event.”
Pakistan were due to co-host the event with India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
Given recent history and the country’s current straits, this seems like a wise and obvious decision. On another level, when India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka come off looking like comparative havens of calm, you have serious security concerns.
As you may have heard, things aren’t going so well in Afghanistan these days. But as the U.S. considers a troop buildup in the war-torn nation, the Afghani national cricket team is making an impossible run to the World Cup:
Afghanistan began their pursuit of a coveted 2011 World Cup place as a member of the lowest-ranked group of cricket-playing nations.
If they do win a place in the tournament it would be an unrivalled cricketing achievement.
Never before has a team qualified for the World Cup finals from such a position.
As Bloomberg notes, the team is just five years old and made up of former refugees. If your country is as ravaged as Afghanistan, then sports are never more than a cold comfort. But it’s something.
Recently, the attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team by Pakistani militants was followed up by an attack on a police academy, again by Pakistani militants. All of it happened in the city of Lahore. A Pakistani security official points out the significance:
“Lahore is the only city in Pakistan which has remained relatively peaceful since the 9/11 attacks. For the last few years, it has hosted cultural festivals, concerts and cricket matches with aplomb, while the rest of Pakistan has been up in flames. It has been Pakistan’s saving grace, and whoever wants to destabilise the country or the government, would go after Lahore.”
It’s the Pakistani outpost of the Taliban that’s doing just that. Given the rogue elements in place and the prevailing instability, even Russia’s worried about the ability to secure Pakistan’s nukes.
Recall the controversy over the decision to move a major cricket tournament out of India because of security concerns? The tournament would’ve coincided with Indian elections, and thus India couldn’t spare the necessary security forces. Now comes this:
Those who were blaming the Indian Government for allowing IPL travel to offshore might be breaking into cold sweat now, following the surfacing of US intelligence report that IPL could have experienced the ultimate mayhem if it was not exported outside Indian borders in time. The terrorists’ secret blue print has been cracked; thanks to Stratfor – one of the leading providers of strategic intelligence on global security affairs. It said Indian Premier League was on the hit list of Islamic terror groups and about to suffer a 26/11 style terror strike.
India has come under much criticism, especially from within, for allowing the IPL to pick up stakes. However, given the compromised security that would’ve been in place, these warnings make it clear that the correct decision was made.
Off-topic: Does anyone else find it a little strange that the CIA has a kids’ page?
South Africa, because of its decision to deny a visa to the Dalai Lama, will no longer be hosting the peace conference in question. South Africa will, however, play host to the cricket tournament that India lost because of security concerns. Whether this is a net win for South Africa depends on whether you have a greater fondness for cricketers or Nobel laureates.
Has any sport been ravaged by terrorism as much as cricket has? As the sport of the former British colonies, cricket has a presence in some volatile parts of the world, and that’s led to a host of security concerns. First, of course, came the sickening attack on the Sri Lankan team in Pakistan, and now comes word that a forthcoming tournament in India must be relocated:
Organizers of the Indian Premier League, a brash and lucrative new tournament scheduled to begin in less than three weeks, announced that they had been compelled to move the game out of India. With the tournament schedule overlapping with national elections, the government could not guarantee adequate security for the games, they said.
The government maintains that, given the timing of the elections, security forces simply cannot be spared. Needless to say, India’s dueling parties are using the issue as a cudgel against each other. That’s typical enough, but here’s the real casualty:
It is difficult to overstate the love of cricket in this part of the world, and until recently, the cricket pitch had been widely seen as the rare safe zone from terrorism attacks.
Given world events, people today need the consoling distraction of sport, but in many corners of the globe they’re being deprived of it.