Give us a break – This is not Cricket !

The India’s decision of not sending its cricket team to Lahore to participate in the four-nation Asian Test Championship has given a body blow to the spirit of India and Pakistan peace talks. The decision was taken afteréa meetingébetween Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and three senior cabinet colleagues, Home Minister Lal Krishna Advani , External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh and Uma Bharti, the Indian Sports Minister . Reports also reveal that Mr Jaswant Singh was in favour of India’s participation, but Mr Advani and Ms Bharti coerced the Prime Minister into making yet another decision against his wishes

The hawks in the BJP-led coalition government are denying all chances to normalise relations between the two neighbour countries. Millions of cricket fans on both sides of the border are disappointed by the latest Indian pull-out, believing that sports and politics should not be mixed.éIndia seems to view cricket encounters with Pakistan as wars by other means. In contrast, Pakistan is willing to play with Indiaéat home or away tournaments. It is in better interests of both countries to meet in cricket grounds rather giving hawks a chance to prepare grounds to encounter in battle fields.

In another interesting development this week India has appealed to Pakistan to help it in countering the decision by the United States Patent Office to give a “varietal patent” to Texas company Ricetec for selling its rice as a superior strain of Basmati. If it is inétheir business interests, New Delhi does not mind ‘cross-border terrorism’. The Lahore declaration was signed due to Nawaz Sharif’s acceptance of India’s formula ‘Business first andéKashmir later’. But the General Pervaiz Musharraf’s insistence on ‘Kashmir first and Business later’ did not allow inking a Declaration.

Would it not be the right approach to play cricket andéput Basmati rice biryani in banquet menu of next Summit talks between Indian Prime Minister Atal Baharee Vajpayee and Pakistani President General Pervez Musharraf to resolve the core issue of Kashmir. And a message to BJP hard-liners from millions of cricket fans from both side of the border é Give us a break. This is not Cricket by any means.