Finally India and Pakistan have decided to resume cricketing ties. The Board of Cricket Control of India (BCCI) recently announced that India would be hosting Pakistan team for three one day internationals and two T20 matches. It is great news for cricket lovers as it would be a first official series between the two sides after five years. India and Pakistan played last series in November 2007.
There is no harm in both the countries resuming cricketing ties. It is a welcome step. Kashmiris have always maintained that they are not against friendly ties between the two countries. When Pakistan foreign secretary Jalil Abbas Ansari arrived in New Delhi first thing he did was that he met the Kashmiri separatist leaders. His move disappointed people at New Delhi and they reacted sharply. However, the matter was pushed under the carpet the very next day when Ansari met his counterpart as noting about he (Ansari) meeting separatists ostensibly was discussed in the official meeting held between the two dignitaries of the neighboring countries.
One wonders what did the foreign secretaries discuss, it seems cricket. Soon after the meeting BCCI announced its decision to host Pakistan. It appears that Kashmir hardly figures in the ongoing talks between both the countries as nothing happens in Kashmir irrespective of talks held at any level.
Recently the Chairman of Hurriyat Conference (G) Syed Ali Shah Geelani advised people of Kashmir to stand on their own feet as they cannot depend on anyone. Apparently it looks like that India and Pakistan have decided to shed the baggage of history and move ahead, and Geelani seems to have realized it. Both the countries discussing trade, commerce, sports and people to people contact has made the belief of Kashmiris firm that Kashmir at least for time being has been pushed on the back burner. Even if Pakistan wants to help Kashmiris it cannot do so as issues confronting the country at present are bigger than Kashmir.
Pakistan leadership seems to have decided that it wants no confrontation with India at this point of time and talking Kashmir doesnt make any sense.
The way India-Pakistan parleys are moving it looks like in coming days many decisions would be taken and both the countries would try to further strengthen their ties. May be some Kashmir specific Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) would be announced but expecting something beyond CBMs would be expecting too much.
Amidst the India-Pakistan bonhomie Kashmiris have been left stranded as they are left with limited options. They know that even if they oppose the talks its not going to help their cause neither would it have any impact on New Delhi and Islamabad.
Kashmiri separatist leaders, including Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Muhammad Yasin Malik, in their recent statements have been talking about younger generation being pushed to the wall and if Kashmir issue is not resolved it can lead to the outbreak of one more 1989 like rebellion.
Kashmiris know that India and Pakistan coming closer means peace in Kashmir, but when they look at past two decades they think what have they achieved? Kashmir remained a battlefield for 20-years and more than one lakh lives were lost and property worth billions was destroyed during this period. Time only can decide would Kashmiris allow their wounds to get healed or would they once again take to streets or would they watch the forthcoming Indo-Pak cricket series with fervor and enthusiasm?