The scenes at the Old Trafford during the high-voltage India-Pakistan cricket match on Sunday last, were majestic, euphoric and heart warming. It was an evidence of how much we are yet to learn from sports. It was on a cricket field we saw fans waving the flags of their respective countries standing beside each other in the same enclosure. It showed us all former cricketers who were present at the Old Trafford on that day were praising good cricket irrespective of win or loss. We have also witnessed how Bollywood actor Ranbir Singh comforted a Pakistani fan, who was crestfallen after India’s victory in the crucial match. All in all, cricket was clearly the winner on that day and at the same time the game has left many subtle messages for us.
Compare the picture of Old Trafford with the pictures that emerged from the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation’s high-powered meeting at Bishkek, where Prime Ministers of both India and Pakistan were present. Though, the two spent nearly 48-hours in the same city, not a single word was uttered regarding resuming dialogue between the two countries. No efforts were made to bring back peace in south Asia. Kashmir and terror appeared to be more powerful than popular wish to keep the two neighbours poles apart.
If a popular vote is taken today, there is no doubt that peace between the two neighbours will be ranaway winner. If one is not a believer of this thought, he must be ignorant of the friendship between Indian cricketer and former captain M. S. Dhoni and Basir Amhed, a New York based businessman of Pak origin. Whenever there is a cricket match between and wherever it may be, Basir will reach that stadium with this belief that Dhoni will arrange a ticket for him. This has not happened only on Sunday, else it happened every time since 2011. From that period till now, in every Indo-Pak cricket match, Basir was seen in the gallery waving the Pakistani flag, courtesy M. S. Dhoni.
Sudhir Gautam is India’s answer to Pakistan’s Basir. This die-hard fan follows Indian cricket team everywhere around the globe. It is the Indian players who pay for his travel and other expanses. But whenever there is an Indo-Pak match, the Indian players don’t have to think much where Sudhir will stay or what will he take. The moment Gautam arrives in the city where the match is scheduled to be played, the Pakistani takes Gautam under his wings and they share the same room and eat from the same plate. During the last couple of years we have seen many ups and downs in Indo-Pak bilateral relations, but the friendship between Basir and Sudhir remains unaffected.
Everyone knows that the biggest enemy of south Asia is poverty. We are poor despite being rich in natural resources. Time has come for us either to defeat poverty or to perish. But even in such a situation the South Asian neighbours spent more money on defence sector ignoring the education sector. Manchester may work as a pathfinder if the leadership of the two countries are really interested in peace and not in confrontation. Allow the popular will to prevail. Don’t look at the problems through narrow prism of nationalism. Take a vow to establish exemplary neighbourly relations. That is the message from Manchester.