To Chairman Indian Premier League,
Mr. Lalit Modi.
Cc: Mr. Shashank V Manohar, Chairman BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India) ; Mr. Indu Jain, Chairman the Times of India group
We are living in testing times. With nearly 1/5th of humanity living in Indo-Pak subcontinent, with a military might that can end human existence on both sides of the border, with a history that goes back to hundreds of years and with over 3 full fledged wars been fought between the two great nations since 1947, we are surely living in testing times.
There is so much that is common between us and at the same time, so much that differentiates us. This perplexed relation between India and Pakistan implies huge responsibility on the shoulders of those who matter, on both sides of the LoC. However, civil and military leadership on both sides has been playing with the future of 1.5 billion human beings. When leaders fail to bring the two arch rivals together, it is the responsibility of media and sporting personalities to try and do what their leaders hadn’t been able to do for decades, i.e to try and cement the cracked relationship between the two nations.
Such a much needed endeavor was initiated by the Times of India and Jang group under the aegis of “Aman ki Asha”. No media group can ensure peaceful ties between Delhi and Islamabad, but it was step in the right direction and if properly addressed to cater for the mistrust between the people of two countries, such initiatives can bring about a positive change. Similarly, cricket is one thing that is followed like a religion in India and Pakistan; it can serve as catalyst to cement the cracked relationship between us. Despite all differences, controversies and grievances, there exists an inner feeling amongst the cricket lovers to revive cricket relations between the two. I have had many Indian friends over the years and I speak on their behalf as well as on the behalf of Pakistani youth, as I represent a considerable segment of youth in Pakistan.
It was really disappointing and shocking to read media reports of today’s auction of the potential IPL players. Pakistan is the top rated T20 team in the world with a win percentage of 76 %. Many Pakistani players, including those considered for auction at the IPL today are the top rated players across the globe and it was sad to know that none of the IPL franchises chose to even bid for a single one of these match winners. Clearly, if they were there for the auction, it meant they knew what security threats they would be playing under plus not to forget, Ex-Pakistan Captain and veteran all-rounder, Wasim Akram is serving as a coach with Kolkata Knightriders. Chairman PCB, Ijaz Butt has also explicitly reiterated no visa issues and security problems for Pakistani players willing to play the IPL. Many of these players, performed well in the ICL with no security concerns not too long ago.
We feel there is prejudice in the IPL and the people running it are biased or playing in the hands of lobbies not wanting peaceful cricketing relations between the two countries. I would not go into the detail of other allegations against the BCCI for lobbying against Pakistan and dragging politics into sports, vinegar in honey and hate in a passion.
Though, Pakistani cricket would not suffer as much, as we will be ready to take on any team, specially India in the next T20 World cup and the world will witness unprecedented support from fans across the world, as our players would not only play cricket but melt hearts.
Best of luck with your glittery IPL and you surely have lost one ardent follower because of your partiality with Pakistani players and Pakistani cricket.
Syed Ali Abbas Zaidi
P.S: I am copying some text from the Times of India official web-portal, under the title of “ Aman ki Asha “ (Source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/amankiasharticleshow/5406022.cms)
Peace with Pak: Pitching for friendship, On And Off The Field
Indian cricketers come back from Pakistan with sweet memories of fun, food and friendship. So do the players from the other side of the border.
Is the proverbial barbed wire enough to keep India and Pakistan apart? After the horrific 26/11 events of last year, the two governments have hardened their positions. But, the cricketers think differently. We deal with something that is beyond caste, creed and religioun. It’s our passion for the game that binds cricketers from either side of the border. Whenever I get a chance to meet the likes of Sunil Gavaskar or Dilip Vengsarkar, I seize it. I believe the feeling is reciprocal when I visit India. The old generation of players regards each other for their cricket skills. But the younger players have much stronger bonding. Some of the current cricketers are very close to each other. These days, they don’t get enough opportunity to meet due to political tension. But I am confident that Indo-Pak cricket will resume again. If it doesn’t, world cricket will suffer. Whatever the official stand, cricketers from both countries have forged ties too strong to be weakened by terror or official rhetoric.
My association with Pakistan goes back to my Under-19 days. As a young cricketer, it was fascinating to dream of meeting some of the legends such as Imran Khan and Wasim Akram. Then, in 2004, the famous Indo-Pak tour happened. It was a big break for me and I was really hungry for success on Pakistani soil. During that tour, I realized that on the field, Pakistani players are opponents, but off the field, they are very nice people. In Pakistan, players, fans and administrators are very hospitable. Among current players, I share a very good rapport with Umer Gul. I have known him since my Under-19 days. Even Danish Kaneria, who speaks Gujrati very well, is a good friend. During our tour, I remember, Mohammad Yousuf once brought food for the entire Indian team. Even Wasim bhai would give me bowling advice. It’s because of such friendship between us that the acts of a few haven’t affected the warmth that we share.
It’s unfortunate that India and Pakistan have not been playing each other for a while on a regular basis. I have had some good memories of playing in Pakistan. Some Pakistani cricketers took part in the inaugural IPL in 2008 and it was really nice to see them perform so well for their sides. Among Pakistani players, I am friends with Shahid Afridi, Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Yusuf. Whenever we meet, we all talk in Punjabi and have a blast. Even Harbhajan and Zaheer are part of this group. I had a memorable tour of Pakistan in 2004, when I went there for the first time. We enjoyed every moment of our trip. In future, I hope to see the two countries playing each other more often. Pakistan is a good team and they need to be complimented for winning the Twenty20 World Cup in 2009.
In 1989, when I toured Pakistan as the Indian captain, that series was historical in many ways. It was during that series that Sachin Tendulkar emerged as an international star. In 1989, Pakistan had a great team. Their captain Imran Khan wanted to beat us in the series, but we drew all the four matches. Even though we lost the ODI series badly, it was a great experience. It was one of the toughest tours for me. The tour was also a great learning experience for me. I still nurture great friendships with many former Pakistani cricketers. What
I like most about the Pakistanis is that they are very hospitable people. They know how to treat their guests. And at their parties, you can taste the best of cuisines.