The IPL (Indian Premier League) is back. Like the past years, a lot of noise can be heard about it, but the only difference is that this year the notes are strained. The auction where players from several countries were up for bidding by various IPL team owners is where all the noise started from. Out of the total number of players who were made available for the auction, 11 were Pakistani players. Amazingly, no IPL franchisee bid for any player from Pakistan.
Quite obviously this hurt the Pakistan players who believe they have been unnecessarily humiliated. Even top players like Shahid Afridi couldn’t secure any bids. This ignore hasn’t gone down well with the Pakistan Government and its people. As a mark of protest against the behaviour put up by the IPL, Lalit Modi’s (IPL Commissioner) effigies were burnt at some places in Pakistan. This snub is sure to affect the Indo-Pak peace initiatives.
As the IPL is not a government body, Indian Home Minister Mr. P. Chidambaram, tried to pacify the hurt neighbours by saying that such behaviour is unfortunate and the Government had no say in it.
Indeed such behaviour on part of the IPL is just not acceptable. Such treatment of the Pakistani players is sure to slow down the cooperation initiatives between India and Pakistan to an awfully slow pace. However the IPL franchisees have very conveniently cited availability issues as the reason for not picking these players. A very crucial question that arises from this statement: If the IPL was not sure about the availability of these players then why were these players put up for auction at all?
Sports, especially cricket has been seen as a way of telling the anti Indo-Pak cooperation forces that India and Pakistan can be good neighbours to each other. But what happened during the auction of players for IPL has given such anti-peace groups a reason to smile. One question that has been plaguing almost every mind ever since this controversy came to the front is: Does no franchisee bidding for any Pakistani player mean that it was planned in advance to give these players a cold shoulder?
Recently (what seemed to be a ray of hope in this crisis) it was claimed by Pakistan that an IPL team- Deccan Chargers had approached Pakistani player Abdul Razzak to play for them. But Lalit Modi soon lambasted it as a baseless rumour and things are back to square one.