I don't get it.
India will play Pakistan in a group stage hockey match at the Asian Champions Trophy 2016 on Sunday. So much for all the talk about boycotting our neighbours. I am all for keeping sport out of the realm of politics, but let's not grandstand if we can't keep it up for even one month, instead turning our posturing into a mockery of a stiff-backed stance.
This political-military confrontation between India and Pakistan has a different texture to it. Not since Kargil have we come so close to armageddon. After the surgical strikes, we were determined to ostracise Pakistan internationally, the word most bandied about being "pariah".
Technically, Pakistan represents the mothership of terrorism. But we are still playing hockey with them. Ah, of course, this is sport, it doesn't count.
Was it not sport when BCCI requested the ICC just two weeks ago to ensure that the two countries were not in the same pool in any international cricket tournament, and there were enough of us who thought we were sending out a strong and powerful message? Didn't BCCI chief Anurag Thakur made it look like this was a crystal cut solidarity with the armed forces and the Indian outrage over the export of terrorism from our neighbour?
So, how come sauce for the goose is not sauce for the gander, seeing as how both are sports, and hockey is still our national game? There was so much cloying praise for our brave stance over cricket, even if it made no sense; but the tame, unquestioning argument today belies everything that has been said.
Don't get me wrong, if we can be friends and end 70 years of hostility, that's terrific. But we cannot have double standards.
All that commotion about the Karan Johar film being released under police protection and Fawad Khan being drummed out of India and Bollywood splitting itself into for and against camps becomes a farce if we adopt double standards.
There has to be some staying power if we launch such offensives. Johar was paraded as being anti-national for backing Fawad Khan, and here we are on a Sunday afternoon, buddying up on the hockey field and, win or lose, it makes chewing gum out of the national policy.
Perhaps there is no national policy and everything is knee jerk. Prime Minister Narendra Modi can go up on stage and slam Pakistan, but we will play hockey. We can shut them down and they can shut us out, but we will stay play hockey. There is no lessening of tensions on the border, Pakistan has still banned Indian films, continues to maintain there were no surgical strikes, its defence minister has publicly and gleefully stated that he would annihilate Delhi with a nuke and supposedly Indian songs are off the radio and they are not showing the MS Dhoni biopic either.
In return, we have gone global in our efforts to isolate Pakistan, have it named a rogue state, banned their channels and their actors from entering India, and generally placed it on the backfoot in every department; even going as far as to scuttle the SAARC conference.
So why are we playing hockey and respecting each other's anthems and shaking hands and no one thinks it is odd?
Is the battle over, has the fat lady sung, did something happen to change the dynamics, have Uri, Baramulla, Pampore slipped off the news pages, and will Anurag Thakur still avoid playing Pakistan on the group matches of the World Cup?
That is the 64 million dollar question.
Catch the live updates of India vs Pakistan Hockey Asian's Trophy 2016 here.
Published Date: Oct 23, 2016 12:28 PM | Updated Date: Oct 23, 2016 16:21 PM