BEIJING: In today’s South Asian scenario, India simply cannot bypass its two principal neighbours, Pakistan and China, and has no option but to maintain good relations with them.
Surely, Pakistan-India-China cooperation will better safeguard the peace and stability of the entire region, according to an article of Rabi Sankar Bosu, secretary of New Horizon Radio Listeners’ Club, India, published in a Chinese website on Sunday.
Sports can play an important diplomatic role in promoting peace and humanity around the world. Indeed, sportsmen break barriers and unite people, it said.
Pakistan’s legendary World Cup-winning cricket captain, Imran Khan is going to take charge as the 19th prime minister of the country, as his party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), emerged as the main beneficiary in the country’s 11th general election.
Imran Khan’s victory raises hopes on relations with India. It’s expected that under Khan’s leadership, Pakistan will again become a great democratic country as he promised during the campaign trail, and sports diplomacy will be an important part of opening new innings of peace with India, the article read.
Despite political agitation and heat, despite all the Indian right-wing media criticism against Khan before and after the election, his remarkable victory generates a strong wave of optimism in India as well. With his cricketing background, he has won myriads of hearts of cricket-loving Indians.
India’s own cricketing stars and cricket fans, as well as Bollywood celebrities, hailed Khan after he announced his desire of “mending sour relationships” with India. All are hopeful that the 65-year-old leader will provide a fresh breath of peace on the subcontinent.
It remains a matter of great pride that Khan led his side to victory in the 1992 Cricket World Cup and has done the same in the July 25 elections. His contemporary Indian counterpart and friend, Kapil Dev, who led India to the emphatic world cup victory in 1983, told the Times of India, “It’s a great achievement. I think Imran Khan is a good leader.”
“What he did in terms of cricket is a minute thing in front of the nation. It took him 25 years to reach this point. He has this idea of leadership and I hope that this achievement of his takes Pakistan towards betterment,” it said.
Although before Pakistan’s general election, Indian media projected Khan as a “Bollywood movie villain,” he is actually a trustworthy man. After retiring from cricket, he turned his hand to philanthropy, working to promote immunisation programmes in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Thailand.
He founded a cancer hospital in honour of his mother, Shaukat Khanum. It tells the world the intention of the man. The uncompromising spirit he employed on the cricket field has worked in politics, too as he managed to turn a perceived weakness into strength, obstacles into stepping stones and disaster into triumph.
The former Indian cricketer and Punjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu rightly said, “Imran Khan’s rise to PM is an opportunity to change people’s lives, and an opportunity to better Pakistan-India ties.”
The article further elaborated that with the emergence of Khan as the national leader, the Indian fans are now enthusiastically looking for the cricketing ties between the two nations to resume.
Cricket between the two countries has suffered due to politics and terrorism. India suspended the diplomatic dialogue and has not played a series with Pakistan.
However, cutting off cricketing ties has not improved the situation, either. Sports and politics must be kept separate to increase people-to-people contacts. Undoubtedly, the resumption of dialogue and cricket will bridge the confidence gap.
Khan’s post-election utterances are giving rise to speculations that cricket will again be used as a vehicle for peace.
In his remarkable victory speech on July 26, while Khan did focus more on Pakistan’s internal problems, including massive inequality, malnutrition, corruption, unemployment, and terrorism, he also offered an olive branch to India.
However, although expressing his desire for better relations, he also reiterated that Kashmir is a “core issue”, adding, “We want India at the dialogue table and I promise if India would take one step, Pakistan would take two. We want to resolve all issues between the two countries through dialogue.”
The article further expounded that there is no denying that both Pakistan and India have suffered a lot over the Kashmir imbroglio for three decades, now. It’s the biggest bone of contention between the two South Asian neighbours and nuclear powers.
India should recognise Kashmir is the core issue. As such, it will be good if Khan puts special emphasis on improving ties with India by focusing on it, given that much blood has been shed over the past 30 years, it concluded.