NEW YORK—At a time when diplomatic relations between the United States and Pakistan are tense, local law enforcement and Pakistani diplomats based in New York tried to find common ground and friendship through sport.
A special Cricket match, the first of its kind, was played between the New York Police Department’s cricket team and a group of Pakistani diplomats based in New York on Sunday in Cunningham Park, Queens. The diplomats’ cricket team bat first and scored 102 runs, but New York’s Finest chased that target and won the match by seven wickets.
Asked whether was it “cricket diplomacy” or a just game, Faqir Syed Asif Hussain, Pakistan’s Consul General to New York responded, “It was both, it was a game between two friendly countries and two friendly people. The basic purpose was to connect our people together.”
‘Cricket diplomacy’ has a history of smoothing tension between nations, in particular between India and Pakistan. After the 2008 Mumbai attacks, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani visited India on the invitation of his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh to witness the semifinal match played between India and Pakistan in the Cricket World Cup.
President George Bush, during his 2006 visit to Pakistan, also took some time out and played cricket at the U.S. embassy in Islamabad.
The New York Police Department’s cricketers were happy over their victory. “Through sports we all can find friendship, common ground and unity,” said Sergeant Mahaan Chandy, president of the NYPD Cricket Team.
Watch Mohsin Zaheer’s video report of the match: