The vast gap that became evident between the abilities of the Indian and Pakistani cricket teams during their match at the World Cup indicates the effect the Indian policy of isolation is having on the longtime rivals. Pakistani players have been banned from playing in the IPL for quite some time now, nor does India play any matches against them bilaterally. Not only India, because of the poor security situation in Pakistan, teams of other nations play them only in third countries. Not having any opportunities to display their talents, budding Pakistani players are unable to gain the precious international experience to improve further. As witnessed in the Indo-Pak WC match, even their fitness levels are not up to the mark. Unless the situation changes, there is little chance of Pakistan regaining its position in world cricket. There will, of course, be occasions when some individual performances will achieve wins, but these will be exceptions.
Indian policy and the developing international politics are isolating Pakistan in almost all spheres of life. There is no doubt that the debilitating effect of this is being experienced all around, as in the case of cricket. The country is facing a serious balance of payments crisis, is finding it hard to finance government expenditure even on essentials, inflation is riding high, and long term investment in infrastructure and industry is almost negligible. Were it not for the ‘colonial’ support provided by China and Saudi Arabia, it would be in a worse position. With so much of the country’s direction being provided by external forces – be it the IMF or the ‘friendly’ countries – the ability of Pakistanis to determine their own destiny has been diminished greatly. Old ally, the US, is disillusioned and increasingly inclined towards India.
The Pakistanis are putting a brave face on things, but every time there is a test of the kind that took place at the World Cup, they will be increasingly found wanting. The situation is worsened by the increasing gap between the nation’s ruling elite and the common folk. The latter are hurting in ways the rulers do not realise. The old strategy of keeping the hoi-polloi frenzied over the Kashmir ‘issue’ is at its maximum these days, but is facing the problem of diminishing returns. Terrorist groups are chafing at the bit and seeking sponsors other than the Pak military. Fundamentalism among them is on the rise, which means they are harder to control. It is only a matter of time before they come into direct conflict with the state. The nation will face more serious tests in the coming days than the humiliation suffered in what is after all just a game and failure will have very serious consequences.