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Prelims Capsule

International Relations

India vs Pakistan T20 World Cup 2021 – Should India play cricket match with Pakistan?

India vs Pakistan T20 World Cup 2021 – Should India play cricket match with Pakistan?


  • GS 2 || International Relations || Indian Foreign Policy || Soft Power

Why in the news?

In the complicated India-Pakistan relationship, cricket matches are utilized as ice breakers and political signaling.

Past in the history:

  • Kashmir conflict: Although India and Pakistan share a common subcontinent, their relationship has been strained since 1947 due to a slew of unresolved issues, including the Kashmir conflict.
  • A terrorist assault on Pakistani soil: The two countries have fought four wars in the past, and there is now no political engagement between them as a result of a terrorist assault on Pakistani soil. Because both countries have nuclear weapons, the cost of a fight will be extremely great, requiring mutually assured annihilation.
  • Soft diplomacy: In this light, the significance of soft diplomacy in establishing peace between India and Pakistan is considered.

What is Soft Diplomacy?

  • In international relations, power has generally been defined in terms of military and economic
  • Successful nations, according to Nye, require both hard and soft power, the ability to coerce others as well as the ability to change long-term attitudes and preferences.
  • In contrast to Hard Power’s coercive nature, Joseph Nye proposed the concept of Soft Power in the post-Cold War world.
    • Soft power refers to the ability to influence others’ preferences through appeal and attraction.
    • Political ideals, culture, and foreign policy are the three pillars of soft power.
    • For example, while the United States can dominate others, it has also excelled at projecting soft power through its businesses, foundations, colleges, churches, and other civil society institutions.

How may soft power influence the India-Pakistan relationship?

  • 2014 – As a goodwill gesture, all SAARC leaders were invited to India’s Prime Minister’s swearing-in event.
  • 2014 – In New Delhi, both countries conducted talks, stating their willingness to start a new era of bilateral relations.
  • 2015 – Prime Minister Narendra Modi pays a surprise visit to Lahore, Pakistan’s easternmost city.
  • Pakistani-backed militants: In response to a terrorist attack by Pakistani-backed militants on an armed forces base in Uri (J&K), India initiates “surgical strikes” against “terrorist units” in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir.
  • Not engage in diplomatic relations: Following that, India stated that it will not engage in diplomatic relations with Pakistan and that terror and negotiations cannot coexist.
  • 2019 – Pakistan-based terrorist outfit Jaish-e-Mohammad undertakes similar terrorist action in pulwama (J&K), in response to which India launches air strikes on the balakot training camp (JeM).
  • Kartarpur corridor: However, the completion of the Kartarpur corridor has provided a glimmer of hope for the resumption of negotiations between India and Pakistan.
    • India and Pakistan have agreed to construct a border crossing linking the Gurudwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur to the Dera Baba Nanak shrine in India’s Gurdaspur area. Across the Ravi River from Pakistan’s Narowal region, Kartarpur Sahib is around four kilometers from the Dera Baba Nanak shrine.

Cricket diplomacy:

  • Strategic diplomatic: Cricket diplomacy refers to the use of cricket as a strategic diplomatic political tool for bridging ethnic and social divides, as well as dispelling historical stereotypes and age-old prejudices between the two countries, by increasing engagements between cricket teams, fans, and authorities from both countries.
  • For example, cricket diplomacy has been used in the past to restore normalcy to India-Pakistan relations, such as in 1999, when Chennai gave Wasim Akram’s men a standing ovation after they had just defeated India, and six months later, the two countries met again in a world cup match against the hostile backdrop of the Kargil war.
  • Past event: As a result of Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s travel to India in 2005 to watch a cricket match between India and Pakistan, the two countries decided to open up the military border dividing the disputed Kashmir region.
  • As a result, India might request that the T20 league be expanded to include clubs from three Pakistani cities, including Islamabad, Lahore, and Karachi, as well as one from Jammu & Kashmir, to play in Srinagar.
  • Harmonious relationship: Expanding the IPL to include cities in Pakistan and Kashmir could pave the way for a harmonious relationship between the two countries.

Soft Power isn’t the only option:

Soft power diplomacy cannot be the only approach for dealing with bilateral engagements between India and Pakistan, as soft power diplomacy has failed to achieve its intended aims in the past, and hard policies, such as:

  • The 2008 Mumbai terror attacks halted the entire process of composite discussion between India and Pakistan, and India subsequently canceled its cricket team’s January-February 2009 tour of Pakistan.
  • Neighbourhood First policy: Our PM’s efforts under the Neighbourhood First policy, such as inviting our Pakistani counterpart to his swearing-in ceremony and making an unscheduled visit to Lahore to visit the Pakistani PM’s residence, have been diluted by the January 2016 attack on the Indian Air Force (Pathankot attack), which resulted in a complete suspension of all types of talks and bilateral engagements between the two countries.
  • Following the uri assault in September of past year, our Prime Minister stated that “talks and terrorism” cannot coexist.
  • Banned Indian content: Following the Pulwama incident (on a CRPF bus in Jammu & Kashmir) on February 14, 2019, the Pakistani government has banned Indian content from being broadcast on television and Indian films from being screened in cinemas. On the orders of the Pakistani government, all Indian sports networks were also blocked throughout the nation.

Way forward:

  • In order to enhance bilateral ties between India and Pakistan, a perfect balance of soft and hard power diplomacy, as well as international diplomacy, is required.
  • International organizations can be utilized to exert pressure on Pakistan to carry out anti-terrorist operations. For example, Pakistan’s position on the FATF Grey list makes it more difficult for the government to access international markets at a time when the country’s economy is deteriorating.
  • The United Nations’ classification of Masood Azhar as a global terrorist would increase pressure on Pakistan to freeze its assets and delegitimize the Jaish-e-Mohammed-based organization, which has carried out numerous attacks against India.
  • The start of a bilateral dialogue between India and Pakistan based on the “UFA” agreement aimed at battling terrorism, liberating fishermen, bringing military personnel together, and fostering religious tourism will provide diplomatic engagements new dimensions.
  • India’s diplomatic engagement with other South Asian countries as well as Western powers such as the United States will aid India in putting pressure on Pakistan to stop funding terrorist activities and end the influence of non-state actors in its politics, as both countries are nuclear powers and cannot afford to go down the path of militarized attack and a war-like situation.

Mains oriented question:

Cricketing ties have been stopped over the past few years, and this has slowed down the people-to-people exchange, also closing only positive sources between two nations. Write how important the role does cricket diplomacy plays among rivalry nations? (200 words)