Cricket World Cup:
On both sides of the border, the press is entirely focused on the Cricket World Cup. “All roads lead to Mohali” is the headline of the Pakistani daily Express Tribune, with the Indian city of Mohali being the happy host of the event.
Game of Two Nations:
The stakes are also very heavy with symbols: the two neighbors are above all historical enemies. At 2.30 p.m. local time [11 a.m. in Paris], everyone, young and old, poor and rich, will have their eyes glued to the screens so as not to miss a crumb of a match which should last around 7 hours. In India, some companies have given their employees half a day off. The others managed not to work. “Indians will suddenly get sick and even cancel their fixtures to be sure to watch the semi-final,” reads the Indian Express website. “I will work until noon. Then my taxi will probably break down”, explains a taxi driver from Bombay mischievously.
Around 2,000 police and paramilitaries were deployed throughout the 30,000-seat stadium in Mohali, a small town in the Indian country of Punjab. In Lahore in Pakistan, the Gaddafi stadium, named after the Libyan chief, with a capacity of 30,000 seats, could be open for the occasion. This is the first cricket match between India and Pakistan on Indian soil since November 2008, when the Bombay assaults interrupted communication between the two countries.
On the occasion of this semi-very, last, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh invited his Pakistani counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani to wait for the fit. The latter regularly occurred, under the approving gaze of the Indian and Pakistani media, who welcomed the return of “cricket diplomacy”. “The game isn’t best sporting, it’s also diplomatic” remembers the Pakistani day-by-day Dawn.
This tradition of diplomacy through sport was first institutionalized in 1987 when Pakistani President Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq came to Japiur to watch a cricket match between India and his country. Their public appearance during the sporting event had at the time helped to ease tensions between the two countries. “Cricket diplomacy is the opposite of cannon diplomacy.
And it is in this sense that the meeting between the two Prime Ministers is a great opportunity to promote peace”, welcomes the Pakistani daily The News. “Even if nothing concrete emerges from this meeting, seeing the two heads of government sitting side by side encouraging their teams and applauding their efforts will be a powerful message”, also enthuses the Indian newspaper The Hindu. This gesture of appeasement will not, however, prevent the explosion of nationalist impulses which is already well underway. Indian Twitter and Facebook accounts only talk about cricketer Sachin, the national star who will lead the country to victory.
Pakistani Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif meanwhile said he will give 10 hectares of land to each of the 11 Pakistani players if they win. “Such a day quickly fills with harmful vibes. The conflict over Kashmir, the bombings in Bombay, and the refusal of Pakistanis to consider that the creation of their nation was perhaps a mistake are all factors that make Indians and Pakistanis watch their two countries play in a state of acute delirium, ”analyzes the newspaper.