Is Cricket Boycotting An Effective Measure In Way Of Isolating Pakistan?

James Paul | Feb 26 2019 05:59:59 PM
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India is considering to boycott Pakistan in the field apart from other diplomatic measures to punish the country after the February 14 terrorist attack in Pulwama. It has also plans to ban Pakistan cricket for which India is reported to be in talk with the International Cricket Council.

However, observers are of the opinion that cricket boycotting is not an enduring solution.

The Indian team is scheduled to play a match against Pakistan in the ICC Cricket World Cup in June this year in England. The suggestions range from boycotting that match — even if that spoils India’s chances — to using India’s influence in the International Cricket Council (ICC) to throw Pakistan out of the quadrennial event.

Vinod Rai, the man at the helm of Indian cricket, made it clear that India's plan will be to isolate Pakistan in world cricket and declare them as "the apartheid of cricket". Rai confirmed that the Indian government is in sync with BCCI's strategy to isolate Pakistan and BCCI is working towards ostracising Pakistan from all cricket and not just the World Cup.

The sports boycott against South African’s white ruling regime was indeed effective. The campaign against the country’s racial segregation policies received a massive boost when South Africa was expelled from the Olympics in 1964. By 1970, more than 20 governing bodies of different sports had boycotted South Africa. But this is the only example of a successful sports boycott.

The US boycott of Moscow Olympics in 1980 failed to generate any sort of impact against the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan — the event which triggered the boycott. The Soviet Union and its allies retaliated by boycotting the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. A number of Arab countries regularly boycott Israeli athletes but have failed to develop a global movement against Israeli “occupation” of Palestinian territory.

The sports boycott against South Africa worked because it achieved a global consensus. The US, Soviet Union, and Israel have always had allies to cushion them against such boycotts. It is also difficult to sustain a boycott on grounds of terrorism as opposed to racism. Terrorism has been used by almost every major power to achieve its political objectives. As a result, terrorism is unfortunately still not seen as an unalloyed evil like racism is.

In such circumstances, it will be difficult to generate a consensus in the ICC as well as the International Olympic Committee (IOC) against Pakistan. Brinkmanship on India’s part may even lead to embarrassment.

The non-issuance of visas to Pakistani shooters for the World Cup in Delhi has already led to India’s censure by the IOC. India may face a ban on hosting future global sporting events. If India wants to punish Pakistan, it should look at the options on the military, diplomatic and economic side of the ledger, and leave sports and arts alone.