Amid tight security, an exhibition match between Pakistan Super League teams Quetta Gladiator and Peshawar Zalmi was played at Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti Stadium on 5th February. The Pakistan Cricket Board claimed that the purpose of the exhibition match in Quetta was to revive the sports of cricket in Balochistan.
The Balochistan government had arranged tight security in Quetta city to hold the match and 100 million rupees were spent for it. The audience of 15,000 on the day was an expression that people do want to see sports revived in Balochistan.
However, the nationalist circles of Balochistan believe that the cricket exhibition match is an attempt to hide from the deplorable conditions of Balochistan. Two days before the PSL match, the security status of entire Quetta city was heightened to the maximum and house-to-house searches were conducted. During the same week, Rahim Zehri along with his mother, wife and children were forcibly disappeared from Gishkuri town.
Nationalist circles claim that the exhibition cricket match in Quetta is to pretend before the world that there exists no insurgency in Balochistan. Pakistan Super League teams can hold cricket matches here in peaceful conditions. However, on the day of the match, Pakistani Taliban targeted a post of Pakistani military in a highly secure area, killing and injuring several.
The provincial government of Balochistan and the federal government of Pakistan need to seriously understand the Baloch issue. Exhibition cricket matches will not solve the problems of Balochistan. No one can deny the importance of sports but such attempts cannot improve the situation in Balochistan. Rather, the state will have to take concrete steps to solve the problem. More questions on the motive behind these exhibition matches arise as similar events are held on 14th August and 23rd March to hide the precarious state of affairs in Balochistan.