Monday, March 23, 2009

Cricket, Terrorism, and South Asia

I've said it before, you don't mess with cricket in South Asia. First came the attack on the Sri Lankan national cricket team in Pakistan (which had the Pakistani street pointing fingers in all directions, including India, based on evidence that India's team backed out of the match).
Now India has announced that the second year of the wildly-popular Twenty20-format Indian Premier League will have to be held outside of India because all security forces are needed to protect the five rounds of Indian elections, to be held between April 10 and May 24. The league features the best cricketers from around the world--including Pakistanis (and American-style cheerleaders). The tournament will now take place in either South Africa or England.
Cricket is a matter of national and regional pride in South Asia. Even during times of intense crisis cricket went on, and cricket diplomacy even proved to work when nothing else could. The fact that security threats have forced the popular league out of the country should inspire the people throughout South Asia to turn strongly against the militants who threaten their national pastimes.

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