Dinkum Journal of Social Innovations (DJSI)

Publication History

Submitted: September 04, 2023
Accepted: September 20, 2023
Published: October 01, 2023




Shamima Fatema & Nasreen Shaheen (2023). Role of Sports in Diplomacy for Peace and Political Integration between Two Rival Countries. Dinkum Journal of Social Innovations, 2(10):576-587.


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Role of Sports in Diplomacy for Peace and Political Integration between Two Rival CountriesOriginal Article

Shamima Fatema 1*, Nasreen Shaheen 2

  1. Shahjalal University of Science and Technology, Sylhet, Bangladesh; shmifatema90@gmail.com
  2. University of Sargodha, Sargodha, Pakistan; ch.nasreen2005@yahoo.com

*             Correspondence: shmifatema90@gmail.com

Abstract: The partition of India, which took place on August 14, 1947, is what led to the establishment of Pakistan. At the time, India was a British Indian Colony. Pakistan and India have a great deal of disagreements that have not been finally settled. The dispute over Kashmir has been a source of contention and has resulted in significant harm to the socioeconomic conditions of both countries. In spite of the fact that the Kashmir dispute has been discussed at a variety of international forums, such as the United Nations Organisation, the conflict has not been resolved after 73 years because it has not been resolved. Tensions can be found on both sides of the border from one another. The “lowering of the flags” ceremony that takes place at the Wagha border is an intriguing event, and the chanting of slogans from both sides contributes to the hatred that exists between the people of both countries. In spite of the fact that there are numerous misunderstandings present between the two countries, there is still a glimmer of hope. The majority of the time, when tensions were at their highest, cricket has been a successful diplomatic method that has been used. The people of both countries have been brought closer together as a result of this. Cricket has played a role in the process of fostering peace. Cricket, which is the most well-known sport in both countries, has also been suffering and has been suspended at various times as a result of the escalations. Due to the fact that Pakistani cricketers have married Indians, cricket has become a source of marriages between people from different states. Spectators in Pakistan and India have been observed to be addicted to the sport of cricket. It arouses the feelings of the spectators and encourages them to show their support for the players competing in the cricket match on the cricket ground.

Keywords: diplomacy, peace, political, rival countries


After the partition of India in 1947, the relations between India and Pakistan have been deemed to be the most dangerous political standoff that has occurred since then. It is generally agreed upon that the instability of South Asian regions is the most unsettling and unpredictably occurring issue in international politics since the end of the Cold War. Before she left office, Clinton gave President Bush the advice that the ongoing competition between India and Pakistan should be at the top of the list of priorities for the American administration. This is due to the fact that both countries are nuclear powers. (2008) According to McLeod. It was determined that the most significant reason for the ongoing hostility was the process of partition that took place between India and Pakistan. The Pakistani government believed that India had not adhered to the terms of the partition in both a literal and figurative sense. Kashmir is still considered to be an unresolved issue from the partition that took place in 1947, and it is widely regarded as a primary source of contention between India and Pakistan. Furthermore, India was irritated by Pakistan’s failure to fulfil its obligations regarding the division of assets, its manipulation of international boundaries, and its opposition to the reality of Pakistan by causing difficulties for the new state (Raghavan, 2020). As a result of fundamental differences in their socioeconomic, political, religious, and cultural perspectives, Pakistan and India have continued to be victims for an indefinite amount of time. Dissimilarities served as the source of mutual animosity and fabricated fear, which in turn led to an unending competition between the two countries. In the long-running dispute over Kashmir, the bloody armed conflicts that occurred in 1947–1948, 1965, and the Kargil conflict in 1999 were all centred on the issue. Both India and Pakistan were involved in a military standoff on two separate occasions. Both sides were on the verge of war during “Operation Prokharan” in 2001-2002, which was launched by India in response to terrorist attacks on the Indian Parliament in December 2001 (Ashraf, 2007). In 1986-1987, a situation similar to that of war was created during “Operation Brasstracks,” and again, both sides were on the verge of war during in 2001-2002. There is no doubt that the conflict in Kashmir has caused the South Asian region to become a putrid ulcer. The hostility that exists between the two nations that possess nuclear weapons has the potential to result in a nuclear exchange, which has been analysed as being more perplexing. In August of 2019, the Modi government rescinded Article 370, which resulted in the revocation of Kashmir’s special status. This action greatly angered Pakistan. In a statement, Prime Minister Imran Khan referred to Modi as a chauvinistic individual. According to Jain (2021), the primary element that contributes to tensions between Pakistan and India is the Kashmir dispute that has not been resolved. Approaches that are based on sports have been responsible for contributing to the development of peace-building goals in this age of globalisation. The General Assembly of the United Nations has approved Resolution 66/7, which acknowledges the contributions that sports have made to the process of peace-building. Inter-state sports federations were given the opportunity to integrate through the Common Wealth engagement with Sports for Development and Peace (SDP), which allowed for the organisation of multiple games for the purpose of promoting peace in the countries that are members of the Common Wealth group. The goal of the United Nations, which is to achieve collective peace and harmony among its member states, has been strengthened through the utilisation of sports. It is noticed that the United Nations Office on Sport for Development for Peace (UNOSDP) was established in 2005 (Dudfield, 2014). This is in recognition of the fact that the SDP recognises the significance of sports in the development of international peace development. For a very long time, the pursuit of peace and the participation in international games have been intertwined with one another. Pierre de Coubertin, the man who is credited with establishing the modern Olympic Games, stated at the tail end of the nineteenth century that the true purpose of organising sporting events is to foster peace among the nations of the world. Throughout his life, Coubertin maintained a strong connection with the numerous peace movements that were taking place in the Western world. He was of the belief that international sporting competitions and world fairs would lessen the likelihood of war occurring. In addition, he was of the opinion that international actors have the capability of ensuring the peace of the entire world; however, he believed that it would take almost a century to realise his idealistic approach. In the year 2000, Kofi Annan, who was serving as the General Secretary of the United Nations at the time, made the declaration that the Olympic Ideals are also the Union of Nations Ideals. Tolerance, equality, fair play, and peace are the core values that the United Nations strives to uphold and promote. According to Burke (2019), sporting events have the potential to play a significant role in reducing acts of hatred and aggression among nations.

  1. Cricket Diplomacy, tool of People-to-People Integration

Throughout history, sports have consistently played a significant role in bringing nations closer together. Multilateral cooperation and harmony among nations have been supported by sporting events that have taken place on a global, interstate, and regional context. The people of Pakistan and India are the most enthusiastic about cricket, making it one of the most popular sports in both countries. When it came to India and Pakistan, the sport of cricket helped bridge the gap between the two countries during a crucial period in their relationship. In order to defuse the tension that was caused by the unequal conditions between Pakistan and India, cricket was frequently used as a diplomatic tool. Cricket is not only one of the most well-known sports for people all over the world, but it is also extremely well-liked in the South Asian region, particularly in India and Pakistan. Diplomacy through cricket has the potential to play a significant role in bridging the gap and combating mistrust between the people of both countries. Whenever the teams of both countries are competing on the pitch, the level of enthusiasm among the spectators is consistently high. The game of cricket between the two countries has the potential to serve as a “Bridge of Peace.” Additionally, cricket has the potential to serve as a significant instrument for the development of confidence-building measures between the two countries. In his book titled “Cricket: A Bridge of Peace,” Shaharyar Muhammad Khan, the chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), has shared his experience as a manager of the Pakistan cricket team during their tour of India in the year 1999. In these words, he describes his experiences. My intention was not to publish my impression until the unexpectedly warm welcome that the people of India extended to the team that was fighting against them. It was their enthusiastic response that planted the seed in my mind that the vast untapped energy that cricket possesses could be harnessed for the purpose of understanding and tolerance. As a result of spending a lifetime working in diplomacy and making numerous unsuccessful attempts to resolve tensions, hostility, and conflict, I came to the realisation that cricket has the potential to serve as a bridge of peace (Khan, 2005).

  1. Momentous Glance of Cricket before 1965 War

Following the subcontinent’s independence from British rule in 1947, the Pakistan cricket team made its debut on the international cricket timeline in the year 1952. The first test series between Pakistan and India was played in the year 1952. During their tour of India, the Pakistan cricket team was led by Abdul Hafeez Kardar. Under the leadership of Vinoo Mankad, the Indian cricket team made its first official trip to Pakistan after a period of two years. Over the course of the decade of 1950, Pakistan and India both participated in cricket tours and played matches against one another in an extremely cordial environment. In 1960, India went on another tour of Pakistan, this time with Vinoo Mankad serving as the captain. It was in Dacca, the capital of East Pakistan, that India and Pakistan played their first test match on Pakistani soil. The match was taken place between the two countries. After a total of four days of cricket, the match was finalised in a draw. Bahawalpur was the location of the second stage of the test match. The Bagh-e-Jinnah (Lawrence Garden) cricket ground in Lahore was the location of the match between the Indian and Pakistani cricket teams. The third test match was watched by thousands of Indian spectators who travelled across the border to watch it. In the years following the partition, this was the first time that a significant number of people crossed the border. Pakistan stopped requiring Indian cricket fans to obtain visas and opened its borders to thousands of cricket fans from India. The Pakistani government made arrangements for two special trains to transport Indian spectators on a daily basis. In order for motor vehicles to cross the border, permits were issued to such vehicles. For the purpose of providing Indian cricket fans with a place to stay in Lahore, rooms were reserved in schools and hostels. It was reported by The Tribune, a prominent Hindu newspaper, that Lahore Mall Road and Anarkali Bazar were seen to be completely packed with people from both India and Pakistan greeting one another. The people on both sides were able to easily be identified by the tears of joy that were seen in their eyes. Numerous Indians reportedly went back to their homes, which they had abandoned during the partition of India in 1947, as reported by the newspaper. Visitors from India were greeted by Pakistani citizens, who also provided them with tea and meals to keep them entertained. The cricket series that took place between India and Pakistan was the cause of everything that took place (Obome, 2015106-108).

  1. Zia Introduced the Cricket Diplomacy in Confrontation

Cricket has proven to be an effective communication and integration tool for the people living on both sides of the conflict. The people of both sides were brought together beyond the boundaries of their respective territories. Due to the Kashmir dispute, India and Pakistan have always had a history of animosity towards one another. This has caused a disruption in their bilateral relations. There has been three conventional wars and one limited war of Kargil as a result of the dispute, which has not yet been resolved. The wars that took place between 1965 and 1971 put an end to the integration of cricket between the two countries. There was not a single match played between the two teams between the years 1962 and 1977 (Iftikar, 2017). Because of this, both teams remained locked in the context of cricket diplomacy. The pressure and uncertainty that existed in 1986 was brought about by massive military movements carried out by both India and Pakistan along their shared borders. During the Bangalore Summit, which took place in November 1986, the Prime Minister of India and the President of Pakistan had the opportunity to meet with one another. Both leaders reached an agreement to normalise their relations with one another. Several measures were implemented, including the prohibition of illegal border crossings, the regulation of the transfer of drugs, and the implementation of measures to combat terrorism and smuggling. (Gonsalves & Jetly, 1999) President General Zia had the goal of achieving collective integrations through the joint contribution of various activities, and cricket was one of those activities. Cricket diplomacy between India and Pakistan was initiated by Zia-ul-Haq, who had previously served as President of Pakistan, in the year 1987. His unexpected trip to India, where he attended a cricket match between Pakistan and India, came as a complete surprise to the majority of people around the world. Up until the time of Zia’s visit, the relationship between the two states was marked by a significant degree of hostility. Both India and Pakistan experienced a highly tense and tense military situation, but the visit of Zia-ul-Haq helped to defuse the situation. It is believed that the term “Cricket Diplomacy” was first used in the South Asian region after Zia’s trip to India (Mazahir, Muhammd, Yaseen, & Iqbal, 2020). This statement is based on an analysis of the situation. Through the use of cricket as a diplomatic tool, President Zia made a purposeful trip to India. During the years 1982 and 1984, there were reports that India had devised a strategy to launch an attack on the Kahuta nuclear installation complex. The assertion was made on the basis of reports from the American intelligence community. Additionally, it was presumed that Israel would be the potential partner in the attack on Kahuta when it was carried out. The decision-makers in Islamabad had expressed their concerns in response to such reports. As a result of Zia’s efforts, a consensus was reached that both nations would refrain from attacking their nuclear installations. In the years 1986–1987, Brasstacks added fuel to the fire regarding the security concerns of Islamabad. According to Koithara (2004), Pakistan was concerned about the escalation that occurred in Siachen in 1984, while India blamed Pakistan for using the Sikh Card to bring about instability in India’s sovereignty. President Zia’s unexpected trip to India was necessary because of the massive Indian deployment that was taking place on the borders between India and Pakistan. In order to de-escalate the situation regarding the military deployment on the shared border between the two countries, Zia made use of the tool known as Cricket. Zia had a meeting with Rajiv Gandhi while the cricket match was taking place in Jaipur, which is the capital of Rajasthan. In order to bring an end to the Brasstacks crisis, the Indian media provided favourable coverage. It was determined that the Brasstacts crisis had been resolved, and Indian and Pakistani troops returned to their normal positions. According to Hagerty (1998), cricket diplomacy resulted in the possibility of integration between the leadership of Pakistan and India, which ultimately led to the resolution of the crisis right at the eleventh hour. The cricket diplomacy that President Zia-ul-Haq attempted to implement did not result in any significant improvement in the bilateral relations between Pakistan and India. According to the perception, the Indian cricket team did not travel to Pakistan until the year 1997. It was determined that Zia’s cricket diplomacy was nothing more than a veneer. On the other hand, it has been observed that Zia initiated a new phase of diplomacy through the use of cricket as a medium of communication in the context of India-Pakistan bilateral dealings for the future (Jaffrelot, 2004). A cricket team from India travelled to Pakistan in the year 1997. On Pakistani soil, both teams competed in limited One-Day International Cricket matches. These matches were played on different cricket grounds. The resurgence of cricket diplomacy is unlikely to continue for an extended period of time. An explosion of nuclear material was carried out in India in May of 1998, which took the entire world by surprise. In addition, the international community’s concerns regarding the preservation of peace and stability in South Asia have been heightened as a result of the nuclear explosion. Almost immediately after the nuclear explosions that occurred in India, Pakistan responded to India by carrying out its own nuclear tests. Following the nuclear tests conducted by both sides, the situation became uncertain and unpredictable. During their meeting in 1999, Nawaz and Vajpayee came to the conclusion that they should resume cricket matches between the two countries (Ganguly & Hagerty, 2012).

  1. Revival of Indo-Pakistan Cricketing

The Pepsi One Day Cup was held in India in April of 1999, and Pakistan granted permission for her cricket team to take part in the competition held there. After the year 1987, the Pakistani cricket team in question became the first to travel to India. Shahrayar Khan, who had previously served as the Chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board and as the manager of the Pakistani cricket team, stated that cricket diplomacy had made it possible for Pakistan and the Indian cricket team to communicate with one another. During her time in India, the Pakistani cricket team received a warm welcome in each and every city in the territory. The number of fans who follow Pakistani cricket stars in India was observed to be quite high. There was a goodwill gesture given to the cricket team, such as 40,000 Indian spectators giving a standing ovation to the Pakistani cricket team. Nevertheless, the Kargil conflict and the hijacking of an Indian aeroplane wiped out the revitalised atmosphere of the cricket revival between Pakistan and India (Mazhir, Muhammd, & Yaseen, 2020). A.B. Vajpayee, the Prime Minister of India, travelled to Lahore through the use of bus diplomacy in order to normalise the conditions that existed between India and Pakistan. In February of 1999, the Lahore Declaration was produced by the Indian Prime Minister through a road trip around the country. The provisions of the Declaration required India and Pakistan to participate in dialogue in order to resolve any bilateral issues that arose. Shaharyar Muhammad Khan, who served as the Chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) in the past, penned a book titled “Cricket: A bridge of Peace.” In it, he detailed his experiences as the manager of the Pakistan cricket team during the tour to India in January-April 1999 and the tour to South Africa in January-March 2003. Shaharyar Khan related that he and his team were greeted with a warm welcome by the Indian spectators, which came as a complete surprise to them. It was an experience that I will never forget. I came to the realisation that cricket had the potential to not only bridge the gaps but also act as a means of overcoming the tension and rivalry. Imran Khan, a Pakistani all-rounder cricketer, a former captain, and the current Prime Minister of Pakistan, stated that during a time when both Pakistan and India, two of the most powerful regional powers in South Asia, were engaged in a conflict, cricket diplomacy had played a healing role to defuse uncertainty in mutual ties (Keys, 2019). More than forty thousand Indian spectators gave a standing ovation in Chennai during Pakistan’s tour of India. It was a momentous occasion in the history of cricket between India and Pakistan. During the Mohali festival, young Sikh girls painted the flags of both Pakistan and India on their cheeks. The Pakistani element of the crowd chanted that Pakistan and Hindustan should have a long-lived friendship (Dosti Zindabad). Prior to the arrival of the Pakistani team, Shiv Sena had threatened the team with severe repercussions in the event that it travelled to India from Pakistan. A further step forward was taken by Shiv Sena, which was responsible for digging up the cricket pitch in New Delhi. According to Kausik (2015), the response of the Indian public was a clear message to Shiv Sena that peace has more value than confrontation because it has been proven to be more effective. The Indian and Pakistani leadership came together to sign the Lahore Declaration in the hopes of avoiding a confrontation between their respective countries. After Vajpayee’s trip to Lahore, which lasted for three months. Kargil conflict brought about new concerns regarding the stability of the region. The Lahore Declaration did not make any contributions and was unable to accomplish its objectives. Kargil war was fought by Pakistan in response to the international Kashmir issue. Pakistan considered the accession of Kashmir to be illegal and desired the situation in Kashmir to be in accordance with the resolution passed by the United Nations Security Council. At the time of the Kargil conflict, the goodwill that had been established in 1999 through the cricket tour was destroyed. During the same year, a plane that was hijacked by an Indian airline added fuel to the fire of bilateral relations. According to Shahid and Perveen (2015), India suspended bilateral cricket competition until Pakistan ceased its support for the insurgency in Kashmir.

  1. Attack on Indian Parliament and its impact

During the Lahore Dosti Bus Yahtara (Friendship Bus Journey), the bilateral relations between India and Pakistan were disrupted as a result of the war on the Kargil mountain peaks. These relations went through an analysis to get back on track. On December 13, 2001, terrorists carried out an attack on the building that houses the Indian Parliament in New Delhi, which resulted in the creation of a new atmosphere of hostility and aggression. As a result of the nine-month long military standoff that occurred between 2001 and 2002, the security of the region was put to the test, and South Asia was once again brought to the verge of nuclear war. During the tense military standoff, both India and Pakistan deployed their heavy armed forces to border areas, and there was a confrontation that was observed between the two countries going eye to eye. The crisis was defused through international diplomacy, just like it was in Kargil. According to Lavoy (2009), on page 14, both the Kargil conflict and the attack on the Indian Parliament had a negative impact on social and political events, including cricket matches between the two countries. It is generally accepted that sports are a reflection of society. Games garnered a significant amount of attention from the people in the South Asian region. There is a significant amount of support for the cricket teams of Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh, and these teams are also considered to be among the best in international cricket. There have been three countries that have won the World Cricket Cup: India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. It is widely acknowledged and appreciated all over the world that cricket stars have sent a message of peace and cooperation.

  1. SAARC 2004 Summit brought back Pak-India Cricketing

Musharraf and Vajpayee reached a consensus in 2004 that the practise of “Cricket Diplomacy” would contribute to an increase in the level of trust that exists between Pakistan and India. As reported by the media, Pakistan’s President Pervez Musharraf expressed his willingness to travel to India in order to attend a cricket match between Pakistan and India and to engage in political discussions with the Indian government. The response from New Delhi was an invitation extended to Musharraf. Manmohan Singh, the Prime Minister of India, and Musharraf, the President of Pakistan, met and declared that peace talks are the need of the hour to normalise the conditions in both of the nations. They also stated that cricket has the potential to be a key tool in bringing both of the nations closer to each other (Kobierecki, 2020). It was during the SAARC Summit in 2004 that Vajpayee and President Musharraf had a meeting on the sidelines. It was agreed upon by both leaders that cricket diplomacy should be revived in order to increase the level of people-to-people integration between Pakistan and India through the medium of games. The action was taken in order to improve the relationship that exists between the two states respectively. Following the meeting between Prime Minister Vajpayee and President Musharraf, it was announced that the Indian cricket team would be travelling to Pakistan for a tour during the months of March and April in 2004. The decision to revive cricket was a momentous occasion for the people who are passionate about the sport in both countries. Chairman of the PCB approached the BCCI shortly after the decision was made in order to arrange a schedule consisting of five one-day internationals and three test matches (Khan & Khan, 2013). Through a meeting that took place on the sidelines in Islamabad in 2004, Musharraf and Vajpayee were able to revitalise cricket diplomacy between Pakistan and India. Cricket matches between both countries have been completed. The cricket series between India and Pakistan was given the name “Friendship Series.” Ramiz Raja, a former cricketer who was also the Chief Operating Officer of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) at the time, and who is now a prominent cricket commentator, stated that people-to-people contacts between two nations could improve the level of trust between them, and that cricket could be proven to be a major vehicle to meet the purpose. Former Pakistani cricket team captain and current Prime Minister Imran Khan stated that he had never before witnessed such a positive atmosphere of friendship in Pakistan-India cricket series as he had witnessed in the Friendship Series of both countries (Mazhir, Muhammd, & Yaseen, 2020). He stated that he had never seen such a favourable atmosphere of friendship in Pakistan-India cricket series.

  1. Peace Building through Pak-India Cricketing

In preparation for their trip to Pakistan for a cricket tour, Vajpayee arranged for a meeting to take place with the players of the Indian cricket team. Not only did Vajpayee encourage the cricket players to win their matches, but he also urged them to win the hearts of the Pakistani people while they were in Pakistan. A bat was given to Sourav Ganguly, the captain of the Indian cricket team, by the Prime Minister earlier today. The phrase “Khel he Nahi, DilbhiJitiye” (which translates to “Not only game, win hearts as well”) was written on the bottom of the bat with highlighted words. According to reports from the Indian media, there were messages that circulated that Vajpayee had given the gift of cricket revival in order to bring about peace and harmony between India and Pakistan. In addition, he wished the Indian team the best of luck in their attempt to win the cricket series. The Congress outlet was represented by Rahul Gandhi and his sister Priyanka Gandhi, who were both members of the opposition. They went to National Stadium in Karachi to watch the match between India and Pakistan. In their conversation, Rahul and Priyanka emphasised the significance of individual-to-individual interactions between India and Pakistan. Each of them acknowledged the role that cricket diplomacy plays in the promotion of peace as well as the potential that it possesses. Immediately after India’s miraculous victory in the One-Day series, Vajpayee called the captain Gangulay to offer his congratulations on the victory. Regarding Rahul Dravid and Muhammad Kashif, the Prime Minister expressed his gratitude for their outstanding performance throughout the entirety of the cricket series. The participation of Zaheer, Irfan Pathan, and Kashif in the Indian cricket squad was analysed by some observers as a means of reshaping the image of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) from a hard-line right-wing party to a soft liberal political party in order to win the favour of Muslim voters in the Uttar Pradesh election (Bandyopadhyay, 2008). The President of Pakistan, Musharraf, travelled to India in April 2005 to watch a cricket match that was for one day international competition. President Musharraf discussed the matter with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Following the conclusion of the meeting, both leaders issued a joint statement in which they expressed their determination to continue peace talks. The issues of Kashmir and Siachen continued to be the subject of backchannel diplomacy between their respective envoys. During his trip to the Siachen region in June, Mr. Singh made a call for the mountain to be designated as the Peace Mountain. Mr. Advani, the leader of the opposition, travelled to Pakistan in the month of June in 2005. During the course of his visit to the Karachi mausoleum, he expressed his admiration for Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan. According to MacDonald (2017), the game of cricket was the one that made it possible for the political leadership of both sides to become more integrated with one another. The period of time between 2005 and 2007 was considered to be the golden age of cricket between India and Pakistan. All of the cricket fans on both sides extended a warm welcome to one another. During the course of the cricket series, the majority of cricket fans associated with both teams viewed images that were friendly. A golden era of mutual relationship can be traced back to the period between 2004 and 2008, when Pakistan and India’s political relations emerged. The mood of the peace process was completely ruined by the terrorist attacks that took place in Mumbai. Even when Hindu extremists detonated bombs on the Samjhota Express train, cricket diplomacy did not suffer any damage prior to the attacks in Mumbai. According to Mazhir, Muhammd, and Yaseen’s research from 2020, a terrorist attack on a train resulted in the deaths of 68 Pakistani nationals and left many others with severe injuries en route from India to Pakistan.

  1. Mumbai Attacks damaged bilateral Relations of India-Pakistan

The relations between Pakistan and India reached a boiling point when terrorists attacked seven different locations in south Mumbai on November 26, 2008, resulting in the deaths of 173 people and injuries to 293 others.The relations between India and Pakistan were hampered by the activities of the Islamic militant groups Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad. The bombings that occurred in Mumbai in 2008 had a negative impact on peace talks and escalated tensions between India and Pakistan. After the shooting that took place in Mumbai between Pakistan and India, all kinds of developments for the purpose of promoting peace and building confidence came to a halt across the board. The attacks that resulted in fatalities hampered the peace process between India and Pakistan and harmed all of the efforts that were being made to achieve a state of harmony between the two countries. However, Pakistan had already declared both Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Muhammad to be terrorist organisations in 2001, which resulted in the country’s decision to prohibit both of these groups (Javaid & Kamal, 2013).

  1. Gilani Visited India to Watch Pak-India World Cup Semi-Final

On behalf of the Indian government, Prime Minister Mr. Singh extended an invitation to his Pakistani counterpart, Prime Minister Mr. Gilani, to attend the semi-final match between India and Pakistan in the Cricket World Cup, which will take place in Mohali, India. Taking the initiative to create a more favourable environment for political discussions was accomplished through the use of cricket diplomacy. With the help of a cricket match, tensions between the two traditional rivals were able to be reduced. The popularity of the cricket game in both Pakistan and India brings about a close connection between cricket diplomacy and the game itself. People on both sides have a deep affection for their national cricket heroes and consider them to be “Ambassadors of Peace.” The most important thing to note is that it is a well-established fact that leaders in times of crisis use sports as a means of communicating with one another (Kobierecki, 2020). 2011 was the year that Yousaf Raza Gilani travelled to India. The semi-final match of the Cricket World Cup, which took place on March 30, 2011, between India and Pakistan, was something that he happened to watch. Gilani expressed his happiness to the media at Chaklala Airbase before departing for Mohali. He stated that Pakistan has always been committed to working towards peace, and he expressed his satisfaction that peace talks were going to be restarted. Gilani went on to say that he was optimistic that India-Pakistan relations would surely head in the direction of a smooth track through dialogue. When SAARC was established, it made it possible for the leaders of both countries to travel to each other’s countries and participate in sporting events. In accordance with Mahapatra (2012), it was believed that Prime Minister Gilani had a great deal of optimism regarding the possibility of initiating a new era of positive relations with India by addressing ongoing bilateral issues. 2012 was the year that Pakistan and India once again brought cricket diplomacy to the forefront of diplomatic relations. In order to make progress towards the goal of achieving harmony and peace, the strategy of establishing trust through cricket was implemented. At the end of December 2012, the Pakistan Cricket team travelled to India. Over the course of their tour to India, Pakistan competed in one Twenty20 match and three One Day cricket matches. As a result of the cricket game, a way forward was produced to improve the backdoor channel diplomacy between the two countries (Iftikar, 2017).

  1. Need of Sportsmanship for Promoting Peace

Cricket matches between India and Pakistan provide an opportunity to observe the hostility that exists between the two countries. Despite the fact that JavidMiandad won the match in Sharjah by hitting a six on the final ball of Chetan Sharma, the fact that this result is still considered by Indians to be a low point for the entire nation. In the 1996 Cricket World Cup, Pakistan was defeated by India in a match that took place in Bangalore. Waseem Akram, a left-handed fast bowler from Pakistan, was pelted with stones by the spectators from India. The nerves of both Pakistani and Indian cricket fans were put to the test during each of the four matches that took place between Pakistan and India during the Cricket World Cup between the years 1992 and 2003. Cricket has become a symbol of national pride in both countries, and the sport represents both countries. Kapil Dev, an all-rounder for the Indian cricket team, shared his experience that there is no place for sentiments when the Indian and Pakistani teams compete against each other. In addition, the political differences that exist between the two sides continue to manifest themselves in the game of cricket. Because it is a matter of life and death, the spectators from both India and Pakistan were extremely excited about the matches (Kausik, 2015). It is necessary to play matches on a regular basis in order to overcome the aggressive feelings. Sports should always be played for the purpose of achieving both pleasure and physical fitness. From what has been gathered, it has been determined that the cricket stars of India and Pakistan have cordial relationships with one another, as well as with the spectators. Both teams of cricketers have a fan base, both in their respective regions and across the worldwide arena. As a sign of fraternity and the development of trust and confidence in the people of both countries, it is examined that the cricket stars from Pakistan have chosen their life partners from India. This is a sign that both countries have developed with each other. Early in 2010, Sania Mirza, a prominent tennis player from India, made the announcement that she was going to marry Shoaib Malik, a prominent all-rounder for the Pakistani cricket team. In the same way that Shoaib Malik divorced Ayesha Siddiqui, who was originally from Hyderabad, India, in order to marry Sania Mirza, it was reported that Sania Mirza broke off her childhood engagement in order to marry Shoaib Malik. Right-wing political parties like the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Shiv Sena were the ones who politicised the marriage. The marriage of Mirza led to the expansion of the relationship between the two countries beyond their borders. Indians and Pakistanis have historically been members of the same culture, despite the fact that they have different political and mental perspectives. It is investigated that prior to the partition of India and Pakistan, it was possible for both countries to have fond memories. According to DE and Moinuddin (2016), the marriage between Shoaib and Sania Mirza brought about a new perspective on Indo-Pakistani relations when they were based on equality.


According to the findings of the study, the conflict in Kashmir has a significant impact on the strong ties that exist between both sides. The Kashmir issue is the origin of every contentious topic that has ever been discussed. As a result of the evil of cross-border terrorism, the peace process has been derailed on multiple occasions, and it has also disrupted the mutual ties between India and Pakistan by causing a significant gap in the time it takes to restart peace talks. When non-state actors have been responsible for an event of cross-border terrorism, it has been observed that the peace in the region has been unstable. There is a strong connection between the topic of good relations between Pakistan and India and the promotion of human security and prosperity in Southwest Asia. The policy of reconciliation is supported by civil society on both sides of the conflict in order to bring about peace in the region. Through the implementation of a meaningful resolution to the ongoing bilateral issues of conflict, the path that leads to moving forward with an optimistic approach can be found. Both parties need to put the bitter realities and negative experiences of the past, such as insurgency and terrorism that occurred across borders in one another’s countries, out of their minds in order to bring about stability in the region. During his visit to Lahore, Vajpayee admitted that Pakistan is a reality, and we want to develop relations based on long-term friendship as a prosperous Pakistan in favour of India. Truth should be accepted because of this. The popularity of the cricket game, in particular, has been utilised for the purpose of overcoming the uncertain situation that exists between the two countries. Sports presents opportunities for integration. The study found that both sides’ cricket officials and teams were warmly welcomed during their tours in one another’s countries. This suggests that cricket diplomacy has the potential to motivate both sides to reduce anger and hatred for each other through the creation of goodwill gestures. In the event that there is any ice that cannot be melted, Musharraf believed that the cricket pitch could be a viable tool for the development of better relationships. Between the years 2004 and 2008, Pakistan’s diplomatic relations with India were regarded as being more comfortable and ideal than they had been during any other time period. During the aforementioned time period, the game of cricket has emerged as a powerful instrument of confidence building measures (CBMs) in the context of India and Pakistan relationships. Both sides travelled to the country of the other, and the events that occurred during the genuine goodwill gesture were captured in the lens of the camera for all time. Cricket diplomacy serves as the counterpoint to the role that gun diplomacy plays. In addition to this, it creates a political vacuum and opens up the possibility of a healthy environment for peace talks.


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Publication History

Submitted: September 04, 2023
Accepted: September 20, 2023
Published: October 01, 2023




Shamima Fatema & Nasreen Shaheen (2023). Role of Sports in Diplomacy for Peace and Political Integration between Two Rival Countries. Dinkum Journal of Social Innovations, 2(10):576-587.


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