It’s bad enough that the tickets for the World Cup were delayed inordinately and there was so much confusion over whether Delhi would pass the test as a venue. But this latest twist in the cricket pretzel with Dharamshala backing off its responsibility to host the Indo-Pakistan tie on 19 March is certain to cause major issues. Why, I was minutes away from booking a package deal for $680 through a travel company when I happened to read about this development. And there must be hundreds others who have gone a step further in arranging their schedule to fit in this tie and have invested money and booked accommodation.
By saying that no security can be promised to the Pakistan team, Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh has pretty much spiked the fixture and it can scarcely be resurrected by threat or persuasion with any degree of conviction.
You cannot provide peace of mind now by saying, oh okay, we’ll give it a shot.
That the has linked his refusal to the sentimental issue of the Pathankot attack by terrorists makes any such discussion moot and a fresh venue has to be sought. But who will now be ready to guarantee that unquestioning security seeing as how the whole country was appalled by the assault?
Dharamsala could have refused to play host from the very beginning. After all, Pathankot occurred on 2 January. To lie low and say nothing for two months and then drop this bombshell not only mixes sports and politics in toto but also tears the guts out of the World Cup. Pakistan, which was reluctant to come in the first place, will now have to seriously review its options, these being severely limited. Any assurance now will be soft in the centre.
As far as the fans are concerned it is a major loss but there are quite a few people who would echo Virbhadra Singh and believe that even without Pakistan the tournament would be fine. Frankly, as things stand, having Pakistan over only compounds the stress and strains for the security apparatus as well as increases the risk factor.
If this is the attitude why not just tell Pakistan not to come. To issue the invitation and then to grandstand seems more a political gambit than anything else. Singh says it is out of respect for the martyrs in uniform that he won’t now offer a security blanket. No one can argue against that even if it is a populist decision. Well then, that is not a prerogative for only Himachal, the whole country feels that way and by establishing this precedent the Chief Minister has made it nigh impossible for any state to volunteer its city. Ipso facto, that would be insulting the memory of those killed in the action. That state would be shown up as disloyal to the nation.
Heck, is this Virbhadra Singh of the Congress party or Sanjay Raut of the Shiv Sena?