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

Abbotsford

Jag Khosa: Families pay the ultimate price of gang wars

DET. JAG KHOSA SPECIAL TO VANCOUVER DESI Late into the night, the parents of a young man struggled to sleep. The mother kept tossing and…
Continue Reading »

linda-hepnerdesi

Linda Hepner, Doug McCallum top two latest Surrey civic election polls

Candidates trade lead spot in polls released this week CHRISTOPHER POON SURREY NOW SURREY — Two new polls released this week show candidates Linda Hepner…
Continue Reading »

DIWALI

Vancouver’s ‘Spice Goddess’ Bal Arneson loves celebrating Diwali with friends and family

LOIS ABRAHAM THE CANADIAN PRESS TORONTO – Ever since she was a little girl in India, “Spice Goddess” host Bal Arneson has loved celebrating the…
Continue Reading »

LOCAL NEWS

Abbotsford

Jag Khosa: Families pay the ultimate price of gang wars

DET. JAG KHOSA SPECIAL TO VANCOUVER DESI Late into the night, the parents of a young man struggled to sleep. The mother kept tossing and…
Continue Reading »

Facebook photo showing Martin Rouleau

Canada is Losing the Values War!

UJJAL DOSANJH SPECIAL TO VANCOUVER DESI The dreaded happened in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, a quiet historic town in Quebec. Many years ago I stayed there for a…
Continue Reading »

Butter Chicken

Light up Diwali with this delicious dinner: Butter Chicken, Basmati Rice with Peas, Chickpea Masala and Gulab Jamun

Indian festival is a fine reason for a feast BAL ARNESON POSTMEDIA NEWS Diwali is India’s biggest festival. People light candles and divas (small Indian…
Continue Reading »

Don't Miss...

Facebook photo showing Martin Rouleau

Canada is Losing the Values War!

UJJAL DOSANJH SPECIAL TO VANCOUVER DESI The dreaded happened in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, a quiet historic town in Quebec. Many years ago I stayed there for a…
Continue Reading »

Vancouver school students

Gallery: Dalai Lama in Vancouver

VANCOUVER DESI Check out photos of the Dalai Lama meeting students and some staff of John Oliver Secondary prior to attending the Heart-Mind Youth Dialogue…
Continue Reading »

INDIA-WILDLIFE-ELEPHANT

Heartbreaking photos of two elephants electrocuted in India

IANS Siliguri – Two elephants, including a female, were electrocuted in West Bengal’s Darjeeling district Saturday, an official said. The tuskers were found in a…
Continue Reading »

Aman Grewal

Gallery: Army officer’s wife wins Mrs. India Worldwide pageant

IANS New Delhi – Aman Grewal, wife of an army officer, was declared the winner of Haut.Monde Mrs.India Worldwide 2014 here. Grewal, who hails from…
Continue Reading »

varsha

Ontario teen fighting superbugs with an assist from Indian home cooking

TOM SPEARS OTTAWA CITIZEN Like a lot of great discoveries, Varsha Jayasankar’s foray into how to kill superbugs with an extract from Indian food started…
Continue Reading »


Bollywood Latest

Bollywood

Saif Ali Khan poses with pants down

IANS New Delhi – Actor-producer Saif Ali Khan was caught and clicked with his pants down while shooting for his new film “Happy Ending”. As…
Continue Reading »

Bollywood

Bollywood actress Alia Bhatt says ‘Going Home’ a special short film

IANS Mumbai – If the masses loved her in movies like “Highway” and “Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania”, Alia Bhatt has again won many a heart….
Continue Reading »

Priyanka Chopra

Why is Priyanka Chopra upset?

IANS Mumbai – Actress Priyanka Chopra had to cancel her pre-Diwali plans as she is down with an eye infection. And now she is fuming….
Continue Reading »