Former captain Sourav Ganguly on Wednesday agreed with what India opener Gautam Gambhir had said a couple of days back that India should cut off all sporting ties with Pakistan, a country which carried out the Uri attacks last month and has been regularly violating the ceasefire agreement at the Line of Control.
Ganguly in an exclusive interview with India Today said that boycotting Pakistan in the global cricketing events won’t be possible but India can certainly stop playing bilateral series with its arch-rivals. (Pakistan sponsor of terrorism, no question of playing cricket with them: Anurag Thakur)
“It’s completely acceptable that if you keep fighting and killing our soldiers at the border you cannot just keep playing bilateral series,” said Ganguly, who added that taking such steps at ICC events would be difficult. (India-Pakistan women series in doubt, India’s World Cup qualification under threat)
“It’s a very sensitive issue and we will get opinions from all quarters, as Gambhir has expressed. Anurag (Thakur) has a different stance, a new BCCI president two or three years down the line might have a different stance but it is not in the BCCI’s control to stop the ICC from hosting an India-Pakistan match in their events,” the CAB president added.
Meanwhile, India Today’s Consulting Sports Editor Boria Majumdar said he did not have a problem either way but said the government must take a strong stand on whether India should actually snap all sporting ties with Pakistan. (Terrorism is an issue: Ganguly backs BCCI’s decision to not play cricket with Pakistan)
In a chat with India Today earlier Wednesday, Sports Minister Vijay Goel said the decision to play against Pakistan should be left to the respective sports federations. Boria reacted to this and said sports people should not have to take such calls and called for concrete decisions from the government.
“I respect Gambhir’s sentiments but the question is will he walk out of an India-Pakistan Champions Trophy match if he is selected in the team next year?, no he won’t. Did he stop playing against Pakistan after the 26/11 Mumbai attacks? no he did not. Will India not play Pakistan in hockey?, they will. But that doesn’t make the hockey team any less nationalistic or patriotic than Gambhir.
“The point is, this is a governmental issue and we need a pronounced stand on this. Multi-nation, bilateral nothing. As far as I’m concerned this is absolute hypocrisy because Gambhir is the captain of the Kolkata Knight Riders in the IPL, a team where Wasim Akram is the bowling coach and mentor. The government has to decide on this and not leave it on the sports bodies and pass the buck like Vijay Goel did today,” Boria said.
Meanwhile, Executive Editor Gaurav Sawant has a different take on this debate, “This is where India needs to decide how we want to move forward with our ties with Pakistan. Just stop bilateral cricket and not
bilateral ties, or should India stop all sporting relations with Pakistan. Sports has always been a part of a country’s foreign policy.
“In 1980 the United States did not participate in the Moscow Olympics, the biggest sporting event in the world, because of its cold war with Russia. Not only did USA not go to Russia, they sent their
ambassadors to 60 countries to campaign with those countries so that they don’t go for the Moscow Games. So that is how seriously a country takes its sporting ties. Will India wake up to it remains to be seen.”