Shahid Afridi hopeful about sports improving India-Pakistan relations
What's the story?
Former Pakistani all-rounder Shahid Afridi has said that sports would play a major role in improving the sour relations between neighbours India and Pakistan, with their ties affected due to repeated political conflicts. “I believe politics should be kept away from sports. It should rather be used as a tool to improve relations between the countries. Sport is something which can play a big role in bringing peace,” Afridi told Wisden India.
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Such has been the rough equation shared between India and Pakistan in the last decade that the two sides last met in a full bilateral series way back in 2007 when Pakistan had visited India for 5 ODIs and 3 Tests. Though they toured India in 2012-13 for 2 T20s and 3 ODIs, the arch-rivals have been clashing only in global tournaments ever since.
Recently, in an ice cricket tournament held in St Moritz in Switzerland, a host of stars from both countries had faced off against each other with Afridi and Virender Sehwag captaining their respective teams.
The heart of the matter
During the exhibition event in Switzerland, the swashbuckling all-rounder, who had retired from international cricket in 2016, won hundreds of hearts with a small gesture. While an Indian fan was upholding the national flag, she quietly put it down as Afridi approached her, to which he said, “Flag seedha karo apna [straighten your flag].”
He also rued the fact that India and Pakistan have virtually stopped all cricketing ties between them. “Due to lack of international cricket between the two countries, we now play either in the ICC tournaments or the events such as Ice Cricket,” he said.
While it is true that political issues have often interfered in matters related to sports, it would be difficult for both cricket boards to sit down for a peaceful negotiation until and unless the governments of the two countries give them the nod to do so. Hence, for cricket to resume between India and Pakistan, a settlement between the ruling governments is a must.