Sources said a match between the two countries, which was likely to have been held at the end of the year
NEW DELHI: Security threats have forced Pakistan’s former bowling stars Wasim Akram and Shoaib Akhtar, who were among the commentators of the fifth One-Day International (ODI) series between South Africa and India, to pull out of the tournament and return home.
Wasim and Shoaib are expected to return home on Friday after commentating on Thursday’s match between the two teams in Chennai, it was learnt on Tuesday.
Talks to revive cricketing ties between Pakistan and India were disrupted on Monday, when activists of the far-right Shiv Sena party stormed the Mumbai offices of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and threatened BCCI President Shashank Manohar and Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Chairman Shahryar Khan with dire consequences should cricket between the two countries be discussed.
Sources said a match between the two countries, which was likely to have been held at the end of the year, was abandoned because of the Shiv Sena protest, forcing India to put off not just the match but any discussion about it for the foreseeable future.
Shiv Sena activists have now turned their attention towards top Pakistani actors Mahira Khan and Fawad Khan. A report published on the Emirates 24/7 website said the extremist group had vowed not to let Mahira or Fawad promote their upcoming films in Maharashtra, of which Mumbai is the capital city. “We have taken a stand not to allow any Pakistani actor, cricketer or performer to step on Maharashtra soil,” Akshay Bardapurkar, a top Shiv Sena leader, was quoted as saying.
Pakistan’s former foreign minister Khurshid Kasuri has offered a solution for tackling the growing intolerance in India: “Only Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi can trap the ‘Genie of Hindutva’ in the bottle he released it from,” Kasuri was quoted as saying by the IANS news service. “Hindutva is a right-wing ideology centred on the belief that the entire Indian subcontinent is the homeland of Hindus.”
The PCB and the BCCI have signed a pact for six bilateral series between 2015 and 2023. Some of these matches were to be held in the UAE because Pakistan was not considered a safe destination. However, India is apparently no longer a safe destination either. How the two cricket boards will honour their pact remains to be seen.
After Monday’s disruption at the BCCI office, many Indian states have offered to host a meeting between the two cricket boards.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee offered the BCCI to hold the meeting with the PCB chief in Kolkata. Moreover, Uttar Pradesh CM Akhilesh Yadav said that while his Samajwadi Party was not enamoured of cricket – the state government officially patronises Kabaddi and kho kho – disrupting the meeting was unacceptable.
MP Anurag Thakur of the Bharatiya Janata Party also condemned the Shiv Sena attack. “You cannot barge into the BCCI office and force cancellation of the talks. In a democracy you can protest, but you can do it on the streets. You cannot barge into anyone’s office, home or headquarters.”
Earlier, Shiv Sena had also threatened Pakistani umpire Aleem Dar against officiating the fifth ODI between India and South Africa. He was then pulled out of the series by the International Cricket Council. Last Monday, Shiv Sena activists had doused Sudheendra Kulkarni for organising Kasuri’s book launch in Mumbai.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 21st, 2015.