Over the decades, cricket matches between India and Pakistan have tended to take on an aura beyond the game’s boundaries. This time will be no different, now that Pakistan’s Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani has agreed to “witness” Wednesday’s World Cup semi-final.
Sporting events often serve as diplomatic tools. The US table tennis team’s visit to communist China in 1971 was taken to be the first step in normalizing relations between the two countries. The 1995 Rugby World Cup revealed to the world a South Africa free of its oppressed past.
India-Pakistan matches haven’t been as effective, because larger political games have been played with less sportsmanship. Gilani’s visit, therefore, underscores little other than good manners on the part of both countries.
A day may come when an India-Pakistan match will be more than just a hopeful precursor to improving political relations. But it is unlikely to be this Wednesday.