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

CIVIC ELECTIONS

A new mayor is coming to Surrey, but don’t forget about councillors

SFU prof stresses importance of electing councillors who will push for the Surrey you want AMY REID SURREY NOW SURREY — With incumbent Mayor Dianne…
Continue Reading »

img_3338

Salaam Bombay: Gluten free Indian cuisine

SAMANTHA MCLEOD THE PROVINCE  Salam Bombay: Salaam to the classiest and cleanest side of Bombay, right here in Vancouver! You know when you’re watching an Indian movie…
Continue Reading »

CBC-sexual behaviour-lawsuit

Jian Ghomeshi bails on Prince George appearance on Nov. 7

THE CANADIAN PRESS PRINCE GEORGE — Embattled former “Q” radio host Jian Ghomeshi has pulled out of a speaking engagement organized by the Prince George…
Continue Reading »

LOCAL NEWS

CIVIC ELECTIONS

A new mayor is coming to Surrey, but don’t forget about councillors

SFU prof stresses importance of electing councillors who will push for the Surrey you want AMY REID SURREY NOW SURREY — With incumbent Mayor Dianne…
Continue Reading »

health check

Parents of six-year-old girl ‘horrified’ after botched vaccination exposes her to HIV

GORDON MCINTYRE VANCOUVER DESI A six-year-old girl is in danger of having contacted HIV after a routine vaccination went awry in Fort St. James earlier…
Continue Reading »

img_3338

Salaam Bombay: Gluten free Indian cuisine

SAMANTHA MCLEOD THE PROVINCE  Salam Bombay: Salaam to the classiest and cleanest side of Bombay, right here in Vancouver! You know when you’re watching an Indian movie…
Continue Reading »

Don't Miss...

health check

Parents of six-year-old girl ‘horrified’ after botched vaccination exposes her to HIV

GORDON MCINTYRE VANCOUVER DESI A six-year-old girl is in danger of having contacted HIV after a routine vaccination went awry in Fort St. James earlier…
Continue Reading »

ghost marriage

11 held for digging women’s graves for ‘ghost marriages’

IANS/EFE Beijing – Chinese police have arrested 11 people for allegedly digging up dead women’s bodies from their graves to sell them for rituals known…
Continue Reading »

Jian Ghomeshi

‘Big Ears Teddy’ Twitter account posted Jian Ghomeshi abuse allegations six months ago

ISHMAEL N. DARO CANADA.COM In less than a week, Jian Ghomeshi has gone from one of the most well-known and beloved CBC personalities to an…
Continue Reading »

CIVIC ELECTIONS

Battleground Surrey: Which mayoral candidate can stop the carnage?

CASSIDY OLIVIER VANCOUVER DESI The streets leading to the Newton Arena are littered with debris from the previous night’s storm. Overflow from the downpour swiftly…
Continue Reading »

Smart 21 communities

Surrey named among World’s Smart21 Communities of 2015

VANCOUVER DESI SURREY, B.C. – The Intelligent Community Forum has named the City of Surrey as one of the world’s Smart21 Communities of 2015. As one…
Continue Reading »


Bollywood Latest

Bollywood movie Fireflies

Fireflies: Sincerely done; good looking film

SUBHASH K. JHA IANS  Film: “Fireflies”; Cast: Rahul Khanna, Arjun Mathur, Monica Dogra, Shivani Ghai, Aadya Bedi; Writer-Director: Sabal Singh Shekhawat; Rating: *** 1/2 Things…
Continue Reading »

Ismaili musicians - Aga Khan foundation

Salim-Sulaiman show underlines Vancouver’s rising Bollywood cachet

LARISSA CAHUTE VANCOUVER DESI With big-time Bollywood composers Salim-Sulaiman set to kick off their North American tour at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre on Saturday, it…
Continue Reading »

Shah Rukh Khan

Burdwan blast: Shah Rukh Khan prays for better times for Bengal

IANS Kolkata – Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan, West Bengal’s brand ambassador, Wednesday expressed his unwillingness to talk about the terror blast in Burdwan, but…
Continue Reading »