Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Hollow Words?

The British Foreign Secretary (David Miliband) said the following regarding the England tour of India:
"Because it reaches out to India which has been wronged; because it shows confidence and commitment; and because it says terrorism will not win."

Excellent statement. Bravo Mr. Miliband! That's the way to go.

However, it makes things a lot more confusing when teams continue not to tour Pakistan.

I'm the first to admit that touring Pakistan is not ideal. And I'm all for England to go to India, and I'm excited about the Commonwealth Games in Delhi in 2010, etc.

But it's becoming a fairly obvious and unapologetic double standard with regard to touring Pakistan. Osman Samiuddin has written an interesting article on Cricinfo today around this topic. Worth a read.

The ICC is digging a deep hole for itself. It has not set any standards, nor has it addressed any precedent. Remember, security was not officially an issue for the Champions Trophy - it was the teams/players that were not comfortable touring on their own hunch, and the ICC decided to "postpone" (read cancel) it.

The infusion of statements from government (like that of Miliband) further compounds the situation. So is the UK govt admitting that terrorists won when the Champions Trophy in Pakistan was postponed?

It's not just bullets and bombs that will thwart terrorists. Bats and balls could have an even greater impact and provide a lot of hope. Whether it's the UK, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, or anywhere else on earth.

(PS: If you want to leave hostile/political/jingoistic comments, please leave them on some other blog - there are plenty out there. This blog is for reasonable discussion only.)

Make your pitch on this post...

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29 Pitched:

  1. Anonymous said...

    Well said sledge!

    We are not natural allies of the west we become allies out of necessity and our role is that of a facilitator, their toilet paper policy toward Pakistan will continue as long as we will have rulers who are spineless and who only look after their own interests rather than of the nation.

    The only way to end this discrimination is by stop giving them what from us and stand up for ourselves.

  2. Anonymous said...

    sorry for the typo error.
    Read as "what they want from us"

  3. Q said...

    I believe the solution is what Osman Samiuddin has suggested in his article - an ICC approved security assessment team for all tours.

    The fact that England, Australia and some others had security in Pakistan assessed by an independent and they refused to go by the ICC report raised a lot of eyebrows.. it makes it worse by their agreement to tour India hence if all countries go by the ICC report, fewer fingers will be raised.

  4. SledgeHammer said...

    Yeah I did like OS's idea. But ICC has no balls (no pun intended) to make such a decision. So I'm not counting on that happening anytime soon.

  5. Anonymous said...

    Q you are right that's exactly the solution, but he also said:

    "Much of Pakistan's hopes of returning to the fold depend on the ICC, an organisation traditionally possessed of the backbone of a jellyfish, the moral substance of a loan shark, and a collective nous less than that of the three stooges".

    Like sledge I also don't see it happening.

  6. straight point said...

    hollow words is partly true sledge...

    while one can see there are double standard being applied to terrorism happening in pak and elsewhere...

    so the tour went ahead...during london bombing...and recently in india...

    one has to ask why this double standard rather than pointing at double standard...

    i think the solution to this 'double standard' is way to deep...

  7. Anonymous said...

    Cricket to Pakistan wont return unless it doesnt stop the export of the terror to the entire world!!

    Peace and terror cannot go hand in hand!!

    More than west, its the millitary rulers of your country who has done more harm to the PAKISTAN as nation than west or Indians !!

    Till that doesnt happen, double or triple standards would keep happening. time for "awaam" of Pakistan to rise and stop the terror support, but then are they ready ? time for introspection guys, answer lies within u people!!

    Just do it

  8. SledgeHammer said...

    @straight point: yes, I see that too. It's not just about cricket and safety. There's more to it.

    But isn't that what the ICC is there to resolve. To at least bring some sanity. Bunch of idiots!

    I'm also getting more confused every minute now. Here's something I grabbed out of Cricinfo:

    ***In the absence of such clearance, Lorgat said the world governing body would be powerless to intervene. "We would try and encourage India to tour but if the government decides otherwise, we will have to respect that because there is nothing the ICC can do about it," Lorgat told reporters here. "We can't force any country to tour Pakistan."***

    But didn't the ICC threaten England if they didn't tour Zimbabwe? ICC can take action if they want, they're just choosing not to.

    ***He said he hoped the matches could be played at a neutral venue such as the United Arab Emirates. "Rather than not playing all, it would perhaps be better to go to neutral venues, but that would depend on Pakistan and India," he said. "There are excellent facilities in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, so why not make use of them?"***

    This I don't get. Security has never been a concern for an Indian team touring Pakistan, and any security assessment will validate that. So then the only issue for India then is not playing Pakistan temporarily. Fair enough - I can see some justification in that. But how does the neutral venue issue resolve that problem?

    I am a firm supporter of neutral venues so that Pakistan can at least play. But in return:

    - ICC/boards provide some compensation to Pakistan especially since security reports did not declare Pakistan unsafe to tour.

    - A quarterly security assessment of Pakistan is done. If this assessment does not declare Pakistan unsafe for two straight quarters, then ICC should take action against those countries who refuse to tour. Because if they don't, then you're setting up a situation where any team can refuse to tour for any reason.

  9. Trideep said...

    Sledge, its hollow words alright. But the solution is not a policy change by ICC or any board for that matter.

    After every attack anywhere, its Pakistan who is getting blamed. Be it in US, UK or India. Its because of this that Pakistan is continuously being termed as an originator of terror. Because of few culprits Pakistan as a nation is getting defamed. Its because of this reason I feel that countries are taking a different stand when it comes to touring Pakistan.

    The solution I guess is that the civiian govt in Pakistan will have to show to the world that they are also against terrorism by taking proper action against those who are found guilty. If they can do that, I feel Pakistan will again see all the cricketing nations touring them.

    By the way sorry to write this political comment even after ur PS. But could not stop from commenting. Hope you don't mind.

  10. SledgeHammer said...

    @Trideep: thanks for the comment, and your concern. Even though it is political in nature, I really appreciate the maturity and reasonableness in your thoughts. (I left that ps because I've been on enough blogs where the tone has degenerated into virtual gang warfare. Given that this is a cricket blog, I want to avoid divisive and digressive political discussion.)

    I totally agree with you on the perception part, and I can understand why that perception exist.

    However, no country (except India - and they have their reasons) has ever not wanted to tour Pakistan because of the perception (and measured reality) that terrorism originates in Pakistan. It's always been safety. Govts have have never even thought of a Pakistan policy that ties their relations (incl. sports) to Pak's terror links.

    But the safety issue has now been almost thrown out the window. It's hard to justify on that basis alone. So now teams can make a political brouhaha by equating relations with Pak fight on terror - but that will be bad.

    Thanks for your thoughts - highly appreciated!

  11. straight point said...

    good points there sledge...

    but we must understand here that icc is not third party governing cricket nations...this is the body emerged from cricket playing icc is as ineffective or effective as respective boards make it out to be...

    so we cant really put all blame squarely on icc

  12. Anonymous said...

    Due to tension if India doesn't send its team to Pakistan it will be understood but there is absolutely no difference in situation between India and Pakistan as far as the terror threat is concerned.
    If Pakistan is exporting terror then who is exporting terror in Pakistan?
    Those who created this mess have now completely disowned it?
    Lets not talk about it as this is not the forum to discuss politics, and just hope and pray that the situation gets resolved and peace comes back to our region.

  13. SledgeHammer said...

    @straight point: It's not 100% ICC's failure. However, here's an article from a few years back during the whole England-Zimbabwe fiasco:

    "The ICC, the sport's governing body, said in March any country refusing to tour for anything but security reasons or governmental direction would face a minimum fine of $2 million and possible suspension from the international game."

    So if security is ok (and the ICC has never had a failed security assessment of Pakistan), and there are no "government direction" issues (which is not the case wrt Pakistan for any country except India), then how can players just decided not to tour, and not face sanctions?

    That's where I see ICC's failure. What good are they, except for ensuring that you can't bring conches into a Caribbean cricket stadium?

  14. SledgeHammer said...

    @wasim: you are right, let's not talk about politics. So let's keep the comments as cricket-related as possible.

  15. Trideep said...

    Thanks Sledge, you took it the right way.

    I feel that post 9/11, most of the countries have hesitated to tour pakistan. Its because during these attacks Pakistan was accused of supporting terrorism. Hence I feel its the perception that is stopping the countries from touring Pak. And its upto the current civilian govt to stand up & punish those who are guilty. This would bring about a change in perception & we may see cricket back in Pak.

  16. Ankit Poddar said...


    i appreciate the fact that you have steered clear from making this a us v/s them post!!

    i had been against england touring india (and i have written a post about the same on my page!) and similarly i am against cricket in pakistan!

    i mean, if we are busy cremating our kin who has the time to enjoy a sport!

    cricket should not be allowed in a terror affected nation, by state or non state actors, which also jeopardizes the lives of their own cricketers.

  17. Anonymous said...

    Unfortunately Sledge, the answer for this is purely political... it is in Pakistan's interest to put their armed forces in place away from the country's economics a.k.a the corporates and the majority people in the country who are actually sane and peaceful to take control of their lives from these posers.

    In the current state, the civilians are suffering both in and around the world and it is time that these genuine citizens of Pakistan get way from blunt denials and put pressure on reforms to change the whole power structure in Pakistan. In that way, there will be peace in and around Pakistan.

  18. SledgeHammer said...

    @scorpicity: Thanks for the comment, however cricket is not mentioned in it at all. Also, I think you are missing the point completely.

    My point is not what Pakistan needs to do to solve the terror issue. That stuff is being discussed ad nauseum around the blogosphere.

    My point is related to the cricket aspect i.e the security issue has been thrown out of the window. And no country (besides India) has ever refused tours/ties with Pakistan on the basis of Pakistan's political/domestic standing. Australia, West Indies, and all the teams that refused to attend the Champions Trophy had no concern about Pakistan's political positions. They were just concerned about safety, and refused to tour despite the ICC security assessment being ok.

    India toured Pakistan during the Asia Cup just a few short months back. If Pakistan's political standing was that much of an issue, India would be the first country not to tour.

    This issue of linking tours to Pakistan to its policies is something that is coming up just now after the Mumbai attacks. It is inaccurate to say that it has been a justification in the past for teams not to tour Pakistan.

    Thanks for you thoughts!

  19. Anonymous said...


    The very first line I mentioned in my comment in all about cricket.

    I'm not somebody who normally spills political view points into cricket blogs. All I'm saying is that unfortunately, the answer to your question is purely "political". If this can be debated to the negative, go ahead and I'll listen and put in my points to see if a logical conclusion can arrive.

    Perhaps you should be informed that the Indian board/ICC is ready to play but not the governments of these nations. In a similar scenario, some time back, the ICC put pressure on England to tour Zimbabwe but their government did not allow and there was nothing that the ICC could do.

    So my response holds true for cricket... it is purely political and there is nothing you and I as a cricket fan can do about it apart from being citizens that can change the political scenario in both the countries.

    My point about self-denial explains this because you can only live in an utopian world to assume that the political spillovers and perceptions of countries won't spill into cricket.

    As far as cricket goes, I live in that utopian world myself but the answers to your questions can never be found in that world, no matter how hard you reason.

    Cheers mate

  20. SledgeHammer said...

    @scorpicity: Thanks for your thoughts. And I really appreciate the reasonable tone that is being used throughout this discussion by everyone. It's not easy in such tricky times and on such touchy topics. Kudos to all!

    I see your point. But only in India's case has the government advised the team not to play Pak because of a beef with Pak govt. And I understand that.

    In Eng vs Zim, the UK govt specifically advised England not to go because of an issue with Zim govt. No country, besides India, has ever had that policy toward Pakistan.

    Australian govt only discouraged players from going because of safety. It's just like a travel advisory they give all their citizens. Nothing to do with not playing Pakistan because of beef with the Pak govt.

    If India was ready to go to the Champions Trophy (which they were, and they came for Asia Cup) and ready to tour bilaterally as well, but Australia, SA, England, NZ, WI didn't, it's hard to say that Pakistan's policies (or perception thereof) were the issue.

    And then if these countries suggested playing Pak at neutral venues, it again takes out the govt direction justification. Remember, England didn't even want to play Zim in England itself, so Zim pulled out of their tour and the World Tewnty20 to avoid a showdown at ICC. Has any country refused to play Pakistan outside of Pak (besides India)? No.

    It's clear that safety was the primary issue to cancel the tours, and that's fine. But my whole point is that safety can no longer be used as the only excuse after the England tour of India resumed following a positive security assessment.

    Countries refusing to tour Pakistan have to cite something a bit more than just safety if ICC provides a clean security assessment.

    Thanks again for your thoughts! BTW, I'm extremely happy the tour went ahead. Continuing with normal lives, while not forgetting the tragic events and honoring the lives lost in them, is an excellent way to fight back.

    Not to mention that it's a cracker of a Test going on!

  21. Q said...

    Besides the cracker of a test going on, thats quite a cracker of a discussion going on as well.

    Going back to what started this, i.e. Miliband's comment, I think it was something said without much thought.

    There have been various reports talking about the IPL and how England's and India's boards need each other. It might not be the entire truth, but there is something there definitely.

    As for Pakistan, what needs to be done on the cricket front is that it needs to become self sufficient. The PCB that is. If it can create revenue internally, i.e. domestically, it will not need to rely solely on teams touring. If the money is there, teams, players, and others will be attracted. Being the 2nd largest market for cricket, it can definitely do so.

    And as far as security issues - I stand by the ICC having a security assessment team in place that shud be approved by all member nations.

  22. Anonymous said...

    Sledge, there are some implications in these travel advisories which has an impact when a citizen goes ahead not heeding the warning... something along the lines of certain aspects of the governments responsibility need not be fulfilled in a worst case scenario.

    I'm not sure... I will read up and let you know. You make a point though which I will verify if travel advisories make an impact.


    This is a great time to start an ICL/IPL style tournament in Pakistan. At least SL, BANG can send in a side... maybe a club level championship.

    However I think everything will settle down in the next few months.


  23. Q said...

    Scorps, as u mention, this might be the right time to start such a competition.. we need money in the game in Pakistan.. I think the corporates and the departments are there who want to back the game.. now we need the brains in the PCB who can do this..

  24. Anonymous said...

    Let Pakistan have an IPL kinda tournament for terrorists, the ISI, the Army and the Civilian govt :)

    Civilian govvt wud be like BD and Pak of international cricket. Terrorists wud be Aussies :P

    Sounds good ? Have a crack guys :P

  25. Q said...

    I don't really know why these anonymous creatures have to spoil a healthy discussion..

    Probably because they don't have anything intelligent to contribute?

    Having said that Anon, if such a tournament were to take place, the ISI would be the Aussies..

  26. Anonymous said...

    Yeah yeah mia, ISI would be Aussies cos they master in export of the terror :)

  27. Anonymous said...

    And then Pakistan is famed for 2 things : Terror and Poverty.

    Jihaad on name of a religion misinterpreted by some mullahs and misguiding the entire generation..

    Sick of having this bloody nation as neibhour. As if 9/11 and Afghan troubles were not enuf, the 11/26 happen...

    Somebody truly said Pakistan is an international migrane, i would say its a cancer and you guys are disgrace for blogging as you dont have anything to say on your cricket, so you come in and as your terrorists inflitrate in our land, you bloody bloggers snoop in our cricket.......

    Stay away!!

  28. Q said...

    I have an idea Anonymous - why don't u come out clean and show us who u really are so we can have a man on man discussion.. why do u continue to hide behing a mask like these terrorists u r talking about?

    I also have a question - what exactly do u have against this blog? Just that it is managed by Pakistanis?

    Have a closer look here and u will find that majority of the talk here is on Pakistan. Unlike u think, there's plenty of cricket going on in Pakistan for us to report on. But then ignorant souls like you would obviously not know.

    I'm intrigued about something else too - what exactly so u mean by "snooping on our cricket" - does the notion of a cricket fan not apply to your brainless pea-headed mind?

  29. SledgeHammer said...

    Q - don't bother responding to Anonymous' comments. Just concentrate on the intelligent and levelheaded conversation that the majority are carrying on.

    Ignore the trash. Well, maybe just spare a thought for those who have to put up with him (or her?) in real life! Which short straw did they pick?

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