CRICKET: Fans face tight security, long lineups ahead of first India-Pakistan series since 2007

Published: December 25, 2012

Cricket fans undergo security checks before entering the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore on December 25, 2012. Police were out in full force in the southern Indian city as part of a massive security operation ahead of Pakistan’s first cricket tour of India for five years. Photo: Manjunath Kiran/AFP/Getty Images

Nirmala George
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

BANGALORE — Four years after Pakistani gunmen laid siege to India’s financial capital of Mumbai, South Asia’s bitter rivals are meeting again on the cricket ground, marking a gradual thaw in their decades-old rivalry.

The first bilateral series between India and Pakistan since November 2007, comprising two Twenty20 matches and three one-day internationals, began Christmas Day with a Twenty20 match in the southern Indian city of Bangalore.

Pakistan won the match with five wickets to spare after India’s batting collapsed at 133 for nine.

Thousands of cricket fans began lining up outside Bangalore’s massive Chinnaswamy Stadium nearly five hours before the match was to begin later Tuesday.

“This match is like no other. There’s a special thrill to a match where India faces Pakistan,” said Ravinder Singh, his loyalties evident from the Indian flag colours painted on his cheeks.

“I’m telling my friends it will be worth the wait,” added Singh, a college student, as he stood in a slow-moving line outside the stadium. Some of his friends were in the sky blue shirts of the Indian team.

Security was tight with thousands of paramilitary soldiers and police outside the stadium. Groups of police carried out body searches before allowing fans into the stadium after they had gone through metal detectors.

Unflustered by the tight security, cricket fans carried flags and pro-India banners while a few sported colourful wigs and face-paint.

Analysts see the cricket series as a sign the two sides are ready to move past the bitterness that followed the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, when 10 Pakistan-based gunmen killed 166 people in a three-day rampage across the city.

India blamed the Lashkar-e-Taiba militant group for the attacks and demanded that Islamabad crack down on terrorism.

Despite a long history of mutual distrust and animosity, the love of cricket — bequeathed to India and Pakistan by South Asia’s British colonial rulers — is one of the few things the countries agree upon.

Relations have improved since the Mumbai attacks and diplomatic ties have been renewed, but New Delhi remains unsatisfied with the slow pace of Islamabad’s efforts to bring the perpetrators of the attacks to justice.

New Delhi froze nearly all contact with Islamabad — including sporting ties — after the Mumbai attacks, a hiatus that has been bridged in recent years by India and Pakistan playing matches in third countries or in international meets such as the World Cup.

In the years since the Mumbai attacks, some efforts have been made to bring bilateral relations out of the deep freeze. Direct trade has been increasing steadily as both countries make efforts to increase trade across their land border.

At the Wagah-Attari land border in Punjab, India has opened a huge customs depot and warehouses that can handle more than 600 trucks a day from Pakistan. Two-way trade direct between India and Pakistan totals around $2 billion, but a large chunk of the trade is channelled through Dubai, Hong Kong or Singapore.

Earlier this month, India and Pakistan signed an agreement that makes it easier for business travellers to get visas. People aged over 65 also will be entitled to get visas on arrival. Members of families divided during Britain’s partition of the subcontinent, along with tourists and religious pilgrims, are also supposed to get quick visas.

“When Indians enter Pakistan and when Pakistanis enter India, they should feel like they are coming home,” Rehman Malik, Pakistan’s interior minister, said in New Delhi two weeks ago when the visa agreement was signed. India has issued more than 3,000 visas to Pakistanis for the cricket matches.

But analysts caution that policy-makers in India should not get carried away by the friendly neighbour rhetoric.

“All forms of people-to-people contact, including sports, are important and should be pursued, but never at the cost of our main focus, which is terrorism emanating from Pakistan,” said Vivek Katju, a retired diplomat who has served in Pakistan and was India’s ambassador in Afghanistan.

Across the border, Pakistani analysts feel that while the resumption of sporting contact is welcome, the two can make real progress only when they succeed in resolving their long-standing disputes.

Rasool Bakhsh Rais, a professor of political science at the Lahore University of Management Sciences in Pakistan, said sports could be a “major avenue through which hostilities between the two nations could be set aside.”

The expectations riding on cricket players are huge before any match, but especially when they play against their great rivals. So great are the pressures, a sports psychologist is accompanying the Pakistani team during its stint in India, Pakistani cricket officials said.






Featured

desi-crime-sexual assault

Surrey man who pleaded guilty to mistreating sex trade workers should go to prison for 2-3 years: Crown

KEITH FRASER VANCOUVER DESI SURREY — A Surrey man who pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting a 14-year-old sex trade worker nearly 20 years ago and…
Continue Reading »

sexual harassment

‘Will you have fun with me?’: Immigration officer sexually harasses female passenger at Delhi airport

HINDUSTAN TIMES An immigration officer at the Delhi airport has been suspended after a female passenger complained that he sexually harassed her by asking obscene…
Continue Reading »

crime-Surrey

Two Surrey men in hospital with gunshot wounds after targeted shooting

VANCOUVER DESI SURREY — Two men are in hospital with gunshot wounds following what appears to be a targeted shooting in Surrey on Thursday night….
Continue Reading »

LOCAL NEWS

desi-crime-sexual assault

Surrey man who pleaded guilty to mistreating sex trade workers should go to prison for 2-3 years: Crown

KEITH FRASER VANCOUVER DESI SURREY — A Surrey man who pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting a 14-year-old sex trade worker nearly 20 years ago and…
Continue Reading »

Changes to Nova Scotia law allow sex assault victims to sue retroactively

By Keith Doucette THE CANADIAN PRESS HALIFAX — Nova Scotians who have been sexually assaulted can now launch civil lawsuits against their perpetrators regardless of…
Continue Reading »

Changes to Nova Scotia law allow sex assault victims to sue retroactively

By Keith Doucette THE CANADIAN PRESS HALIFAX — Nova Scotians who have been sexually assaulted can now launch civil lawsuits against their perpetrators regardless of…
Continue Reading »

Don't Miss...

World Cup final

Underarm incident recalled as Australia-New Zealand rivalry rekindles in World Cup final

STEVE MCMORRAN THE ASSOCIATED PRESS MELBOURNE, Australia — Relations between New Zealand and Australia at a political level have regained their natural cordiality in the…
Continue Reading »

Cricket World Cup

Clarke’s Australians prepare to take on unpopular role in the World Cup final vs New Zealand

JOHN PYE THE ASSOCIATED PRESS MELBOURNE, Australia — Win or lose, Michael Clarke and his Australian teammates are probably going to be portrayed as the…
Continue Reading »

India-Australia-weird news

Youth cut his tongue as sacrifice at an Indian temple for nation’s cricket victory

IANS Chennai – In a senseless act, a cricket crazy youth in Tamil Nadu offered the tip of his tongue as a sacrifice at a…
Continue Reading »

Freedom-Section 66A-India

Teenager shoots himself after father bans Facebook chat

IANS Lucknow - A 14-year-old boy shot himself Thursday after his father reprimanded him for chatting too often on social networking site Facebook, police said. The…
Continue Reading »

messy custody battle-desi lingerie model

Jeremy Renner’s messy divorce from B.C. model gets messier as custody battle rages

VANCOUVER DESI A B.C. woman who was married to Hollywood actor Jeremy Renner is being accused of being a gold digger and blackmailer who has…
Continue Reading »


Bollywood Latest

pakistani sex meera-Veena Malik

Gallery: Bollywood celebs in trouble with the law

ALMAS MEHERALLY VANCOUVER DESI Indian film actress Shruti Haasan has run into legal trouble after she pulled out of a signed contract, according to an…
Continue Reading »

Salman Khan-Bollywood

Bollywood actor Salman Khan denies he was driving or drunk during 2002 accident

IANS Mumbai – Bollywood actor Salman Khan on Friday told a Mumbai court, conducting the trial of the 2002 hit-and-run case involving him, that he…
Continue Reading »

Bollywood movie

Amitabh Bachchan: Balki challenges me with never-done-before roles

SUBHASH K. JHA IANS Mumbai – R. Balakrishnan and Amitabh Bachchan’s much anticipated third outing “Shamitabh” turned out to be a box office disaster, but…
Continue Reading »