Amid doubts over Pakistan’s participation in the upcoming World T20 championship in India, lawyers of the two countries padded up here on Thursday in a bid to ease strained bilateral ties.
Members of the Punjab and Haryana Bar Council took on their counterparts from the Punjab Bar Council, Lahore, at the Sector-16 cricket stadium in a two-match T20 series. The hosts won the first match by four runs, while the Pakistani lawyers levelled the series with a four-wicket win. The matches were played on the last day of the lawyers’ four-day trip to India, during which they also visited the cities of Agra, Ajmer, Amritsar and Gurgaon.
Talking to HT, Usman Cheema, an all-rounder and a Lahore-based practising lawyer, said: “More than our matches, people on both sides of border are keen to watch a series between the two countries. The contest between the two nations is never dull.”
Cheema said he did not feel out of place in India. “It’s like a home away from home. People have welcomed us with great warmth. It has been a thoroughly enjoyable trip,” he added.
According to the lawyer, members of their team were picked after trials of 130 district bar associations conducted by former international cricketers Imran Nazir and Ijaz Ahmed.
Skipper Ali Basher said India could opt to play at a neutral venue. “Pakistan has toured India, and now it’s their turn. Politicians and others are the ones who don’t want a reconciliation. The common man of both countries is least bothered about these tensions,” he added.
No country, except Zimbabwe last year, has played in Pakistan since terrorists attacked the Sri Lankan team’s bus in 2009. Pakistan’s home venue is Dubai, where they have hosted several teams, but not India.
India-Pakistan relations suffered a major blow when the Pathankot airbase was attacked last month by Pakistani terrorists.
“We shouldn’t be mixing politics with sports. The game can bridge the gap and open communication lines between the two nations,” said Syed Imran Bukhari, another lawyer.
For the record, India are slated to meet Pakistan twice in the coming weeks. Their first meeting will be in Asia Cup in Bangladesh on February 27. Both nations will clash in an ICC World T20 match at Dharamsala on March 19.