It has been a long and difficult drought, but it looks like international cricket is about to return to Pakistan. The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Chairman, Shehreyar Khan, has confirmed that Zimbabwe is scheduled to tour Pakistan in the month of May. There are still uncertainties surrounding the exact number of matches and the venues, and the tour can still be cancelled if the Zimbabwe cricketing authority’s security team, which is due to inspect security arrangements, does not give it’s clearance. In all probability, considering Zimbabwean cricket’s financial woes, the tour is going to go ahead. However, this tour is a bit of a gamble: if the PCB can pull it off without a hitch, then the revival of Pakistani cricket can well and truly begin. If the tour is marred by an incident like the 2009 Sri Lankan team bus attack, or even a minor security lapse, then cricket may not return to Pakistani soil for decades; consigning the sport to a slow and inevitable death.

The responsibility to ensure that security arrangements for the tour are foolproof, lies on the PCB – and by extension the Pakistan government; and absolute diligence is expected of them. This cricket series is crucial for the nation, not just PCB. The benefit for cricket is self evident; a successful tour will make it easier to convince bigger teams, such as Australia, India and South Africa to visit – the achievement of which will be the true indicator of PCB’s success. The added benefit for the local cricket circuit, the Pakistani team morale, and the PCB’s revenues are also invaluable. Most importantly, the return of cricket to Pakistan will signal the return of normalcy – the symbolic beginning of the rebuilding effort. Our effort against extremism shouldn’t be to solely focus on a military or legal response; at one point, it will have to shift towards the rebuilding effort – returning to the people the things that terrorism took away; art, music, culture, sport and love of life.