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

gambling-civic elections

Majority of Surrey mayoral candidates flat-out opposed to more casinos in the city

CHRISTOPHER POON SURREY NOW SURREY — Looking back at late 2012 and early 2013, the hot topic in Surrey was a controversial casino and entertainment…
Continue Reading »

labour laws violation

U.S. company penalized for mistreatment of Indian employees working 122 hours in a week

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS SAN FRANCISCO – A Silicon Valley company is paying more than $43,000 in back wages and penalties after labour regulators found eight…
Continue Reading »

Mayor-elections-Surrey

What do Surrey mayoral candidates plan for Surrey City Development Corporation?

AMY REID SURREY NOW Surrey’s mayoral candidates have a variety of plans for the city’s development corporation. The 100-per-cent city-owned Surrey City Development Corporation (SCDC),…
Continue Reading »

LOCAL NEWS

gambling-civic elections

Majority of Surrey mayoral candidates flat-out opposed to more casinos in the city

CHRISTOPHER POON SURREY NOW SURREY — Looking back at late 2012 and early 2013, the hot topic in Surrey was a controversial casino and entertainment…
Continue Reading »

Diwali-Halloween

On Diwali, Surrey RCMP remind residents of fireworks bylaws

VANCOUVER DESI Surrey RCMP, Surrey Fire Service and Surrey Bylaws are reminding the public to have fun and be safe this Diwali and Halloween season,…
Continue Reading »

Kirk Lapointe

Robertson and LaPointe finally go toe-to-toe in Vancouver mayoral debate

JEFF LEE POSTMEDIA NEWS In their first face-to-face debate, there were no knockouts between Vision Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson and Non-Partisan Association contender Kirk LaPointe,…
Continue Reading »

Don't Miss...

Stephen Harper

Stephen Harper: Attack by ‘terrorist’ on Parliament Hill won’t weaken Canada’s resolve

JOAN BRYDEN THE CANADIAN PRESS OTTAWA – The gunman who staged a deadly attack Wednesday on Parliament Hill was a terrorist whose despicable crime will…
Continue Reading »

SURREY-FIELD HOCKEY

Barinder Rasode announces plan to develop field hockey pitch in Surrey

Third field at Tamanawis Park would cost approximately $3 million KYLE BENNING SURREY NOW NEWTON – Barinder Rasode and the One Surrey team were at…
Continue Reading »

Vancouver-Surrey-Festival-India

Diwali celebrations in Vancouver and Surrey

DiwaliFest celebrates its 11th anniversary from Oct. 17 to 26 at various sites in Surrey and Vancouver. Diwali Celebration Friday, Oct. 24 at Firehall Centre…
Continue Reading »

India-weird news

Rudaali: India’s professional ‘weeping women’ demand higher pay

CEN AGENCY Professional mourners who are hired to turn up at people’s funerals in India, beat their breasts and wail, are going on strike for…
Continue Reading »

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 »


Bollywood Latest

Salman Khan-Bollywood

Narendra Modi to attend Salman Khan’s sister Arpita Khan’s wedding?

HINDUSTAN TIMES If all goes as per plan, then Prime Minister Narendra Modi just might be attending the wedding of Salman Khan’s sister, Arpita Khan….
Continue Reading »

Bollywood kiss

Bollywood’s king of kisses Emraan Hashmi refuses to dance with the queen of sex Sunny Leone

VANCOUVER DESI Bollywood’s serial kisser Emraan Hashmi has refused to share screen space with porn star-turned Bollywood-actress Sunny Leone, Indian tabloid Mid-Day reported. Hashmi, who…
Continue Reading »

Jackie Chan

First India-China joint venture film starring Jackie Chan launched

HINDUSTAN TIMES Chinese action star Jackie Chan will star in the first Sino-India joint film production slated to go on the floors in the coming…
Continue Reading »