Our friends across the border are disappointed, some even outraged, that India will not tour next month. It is the last straw in what is being looked at as Pakistan's isolation in world cricket. Not long ago, even when teams like England, Australia and South Africa were unwilling to tour, India showed their willingness to travel and went to play a tri-series. After all, India too have been victims of terror strikes and they understood that all a country could do was take every security precaution possible and pray for the best.
But the situation has changed since then. It's not that the security has worsened drastically – although there are no signs of improvement – but the circumstances make it impossible for India to tour. And no one should have any doubts about it, the reasons are political, not security-based.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India has always been ready and willing to tour any country. When western countries expressed the strongest reservations about touring Zimbabwe, India still went, because it had received no directive from the government. But anyone who has followed the events that unfolded after the 26/11 Mumbai attacks would have known that it was untenable for India to tour.
As of now the government has only said no to the tour, but there's every chance that they might even decide to completely cut bilateral cricket ties with Pakistan, as HT reported over a fortnight ago. The rhetoric from both sides is increasing in intensity with every passing day, and although the media, both Indian and foreign, insist that the men responsible for the terror strikes were from across the border, Pakistan steadfastly denies these claims.
Pakistan have a history of producing some of the most prodigiously talented cricketers and it will be a shame if no-one wants to tour their country. Anyone who has been to the country and experienced the hospitality of the Pakistanis will tell you what a great loss it is that India will not travel to play cricket. But, given the times we live in, and the circumstances, the Indian government has merely done the inevitable. Anything else would have been inviting trouble.
How Pakistan will respond remains to be seen. Will it, in a knee-jerk reaction, disallow its players from traveling to India to compete in either the Indian Cricket League, where the Lahore Badshahs play as a team, or the Indian Premier League, where individuals turn up for different outfits? The cricketers will be hoping desperately that no such thing happens, but political compulsions on the other side of the border might just have a role to play.