The Indian cricket tour to Pakistan in March-April 2004 will be marked in history as one of the most critical steps to bring peace between the two neighboring nations. It's after eight years that a one day international is played between the two nations in either of the countries. Pakistan and Indian cricket teams are playing a full cricket series after a gap of fifteen years with the first test match starting in Multan on March 28. All of the matches are conducted under tight security, after the threats from terrorists from both the nations.
After fighting three full wars in between them, and being in emnity with each other on a number issues including the Kashmir Dispute, the Cricket series of 2004 is a new step of confrontation between the two nations. In a subcontinent where millions of people believe in cricket like they do in a religion, the cricket series is believed to make impacts in both Indian and Pakistani hearts.
Around 5000 Indians, including famous politicians and film stars crossed the boarder to watch the one day series which is already over. This was the highest number ever to cross the Pakistani boarder after the independence (1947). The cricket series is expected to be an initiative to bring peace between the two nations. The Indian and Pakistani flags flying in the air, tied together, was a spectacular scene during the One day series.
To anyone who wishes for peace in the subcontinent, the series is a great prospect of peace. The players seem to be coping well with the pressure and the games are being played in the best of sports-man-spirits. The enthusiasm and the good-natured spirit of the Pakistani crowds, have lessened fears that the cricket might heighten communal tension. The series is supposed to enhance mutual goodwill, and so help the overall peace process, though the people are still afraid of an opposite effect.
Another interesting thing is that a few Indian politicians wanted to postpone the series until after India's elections, which are spread over three weeks from April 20th. Ostensibly, they were concerned about security (Pakistan is home to a number of extremist organisations), but the ruling parties also feared that a poor performance by the team could damage their prospects at the ballot box, and the matches were decided to be held in March-April.
India already won the one-day series by a score of 3-2.