The ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 clash between Pakistan and Afghanistan in Leeds was expected to be tense due to the strained relationship between the two countries and their cricket boards. However, the tension spilled out in Leeds with both Afghanistan and Pakistan fans being involved in a scuffle. According to an ICC source, the fight broke out because a plane was flown which had Balochistan slogan stating, "Justice for Balochistan". Apparently, it was an unauthorised plane that flew over the stadium and political messages were visible. Leeds air traffic is reportedly investigating the incident.
The insurgency in Balochistan is a guerrilla war waged by Baloch nationalists against the governments of Pakistan and Iran in the Balochistan region, which covers Balochistan Province in southwestern Pakistan, Sistan and Baluchestan Province in southeastern Iran, and the Balochistan region of southern Afghanistan ever since 1948. Baloch separatists argue they are economically marginalised and poor compared to the rest of Pakistan. Being crucial for Pakistan's economic future, China has invested USD 46 billion in the region.
#VIDEO | A scuffle breaks out between Pakistan and Afghanistan fans outside Headingley Cricket Ground in Leeds after an aircraft was flown in the area which had 'Justice for Balochistan' slogan. Leeds air traffic will investigate the matter.June 29, 2019
ICC Source: Fight broke out b/w Pak&Afghan fans in Leeds because a plane was flown which had Balochistan slogans. Apparently it was an unauthorised plane that flew over the stadium&political messages were visible. Leeds air traffic will investigate. (Pic courtesy: WorldBalochOrg) pic.twitter.com/cu0CyZ0w0U— ANI (@ANI) June 29, 2019
Before the match between Afghanistan and Pakistan, the break-up began when India's government felt the need to strengthen ties with Afghanistan to keep in check China's influence. Cricket was but a vehicle for this charm diplomacy. In the mid-2010s, grants, permission to use Indian grounds as their home venue, and a Test debut against India all reached Afghanistan pretty swiftly.
The frosty relations have seen the Afghan players were asked to stop living and playing in Pakistan; they were even stopped from giving Pakistan too much credit for their development as cricketers or talking about their time in Pakistan.
Pakistan faces a must-win situation in their remaining two games between Afghanistan and Bangladesh. A loss in either game makes their path to the semi-final incredibly hard. Pakistan’s situation is very similar to Bangladesh. If they win both games, they will knock Bangladesh out. If they win both games, they will have to hope England wins only one game and that New Zealand loses both games by a big margin so that they can finish better than fourth.