Pakistan and Afghanistan share somewhat the same struggle for peace, and their primary goal is to bring people together. Afghans and Pakistanis share the same blood, culture, and traditions. Therefore, the distrust that existed since the Afghan War needs to be taken care of. Conventional diplomacy has long been questioned and discussed as one of the most effective ways to interact with foreign states. However, unconventional alternatives like sports diplomacy have great potential. Sports diplomacy helps to build mutual confidence, where people from various cultures get to interact.
Today, the world is seeing disintegration in its truest essence. The realist idea of Statism and self-interest is again dominating world affairs. Sports are a way to boost the efforts in an integrative and positive manner. This is to ensure that traditional and human security challenges in Pakistan and Afghanistan are managed in an efficient way. Sports diplomacy is in line with the concept of diplomatic immunity. Subsequently, this facilitates sportsmen to go and play internationally despite any political uncertainty.
Olympics games, promoting Sports Diplomacy
In contemporary terms, the most salient example of sports diplomacy is the Olympics games. In the Olympics games, many international countries come together for the love of sports. People from both countries share a love of sports. From Kabul to Islamabad sports like cricket and football have made huge strides making it a language of peace and love. Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) and Afghanistan Cricket Board (AFC) are at the forefront of this unconventional Sports diplomacy. They are establishing the fact that sports must not be mixed with regional politics. However, the question arises that to what extent is sports diplomacy effective?
In recent years, Pakistani cricketers trained the Afghan National cricket team. They also provided them with a platform to establish a foothold in this domain. Players like Muhammad Nabi and Rashid Khan of Afghanistan are admired by cricket fans around the world. Keeping in mind that they began their careers playing for Pakistani clubs and later joined their country’s national team. Afghanistan’s captain Gulbadi Naib has stated in press conferences that cricket is a way of building bridges and toning down the political tensions.
An indicative to employ Sports Diplomacy for the betterment of relationships
Cricket is a very popular sport in both countries. Usually, Pakistani and Afghan children’s games involve a pretend play of cricket with sticks and stones. It was first played by the British troops in the 19th century and was later adopted by Afghan refugees in the refugee camps in Pakistan. Since then, cricket has become a huge part of them and opportunities have been provided in the best of ways.
In this volatile region, sports diplomacy is not new. Pakistan and India have seen the effectiveness of it in the 1980s and 2000s. Sports diplomacy managed to subdue the military stand-offs and political tensions in the region. However, there is a concern that matters of national security cannot be decided this way. Nonetheless, sports diplomacy is warm wishes and goodwill gestures. Both the countries have accused each other of cross-border attacks in the past. Although, in order to safeguard the interests of each other, there is a great need for both countries to come together.
Acknowledging the benefits of Sports Diplomacy
Apart from cricket, football has played its part as well in easing the border tensions. In 2013, Pakistan and Afghanistan interested in the betterment of their relation. For this purpose,, Kabul invited Pakistan’s football team for a friendly fixture. This showed that the two countries are understanding the importance of each other and national interests cannot be safeguarded without each other. However, in this case, Pakistan and Afghanistan share their struggle for prevailing peace in the region which eventually results in the empowerment of diplomatic means, either conventional or non-conventional.
In conclusion, the brotherhood that both the countries share is the basic essence of diplomatic relations between them. In retrospect, Pakistan and Afghanistan should have focused more on mutual understanding but it’s never too late to work for peace.