Prime Minister Narendra Modi initiated Cricket diplomacy, called four SAARC leaders
Prime Minister Narendra Modi used Cricket Diplomacy to bridge gap between the five cricket playing SAARC nations. This would help India to better diplomatic relations with SAARC nations mainly with Pakistan.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 13 February 2015 called four SAARC leaders, namely Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Afghanistan to wish for 2015 Cricket World Cup. He called the leaders of the cricket playing nations and wished them luck.
Five SAARC Nations are playing in the ongoing Cricket World Cup. Modi called and wished luck to Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and President of Sri Lanka Maithiripala Sirisena.
This courtesy call of Prime Minister Narendra Modi can be termed as Cricket Diplomacy, which has been used in past by other leaders of the world for connecting their countries through the means of sports. In context of the SAARC nations, cricket helps people of the region to connect with each other and promote goodwill.
With this cricket diplomacy, Modi also announced that the soon the Foreign Secretary Dr S Jaishankar will be sent on a SAARC Yatra to further strengthen the ties
Cricket diplomacy means use of cricket as a political tool to enhance or worsen the diplomatic relations between two cricket playing nations. Cricket, the second-most widely played game in the world after football is used as a political tool to bridge the gap in diplomatic vacuum. It can be said that cricket diplomacy is better than gunboat diplomacy in which forces are deployed and coercion is used against the opponent.
Cricket Diplomacy between India and Pakistan
In context of India and Pakistan, the cricket diplomacy has been playing a vital role in bridging the gap in diplomatic relations. The cricket diplomacy between India and Pakistan began in 1987, the year when the then Pakistan's president, General Zia ul-Haq, attended a test match between India and Pakistan in Jaipur. His arrival to India helped to end the tensions that they faced against the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and Soviet pressure on India.
Further in 2005, the then President of Pakistan General Pervez Musharraf visited India to watch a cricket match and met Man Mohan Singh to revive talks on Kashmir. After the 2005, Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani toured India during 2011 Cricekt World Cup to watchthe semifinal match between India and Pakistan. This helped the two nations to ease their relationship which was estranged after the 2008 Mumbai attacks.