As I entered in one of the hostels of Punjab University, I noticed that students were buzzing around the common room trying to get inside as seats were full already. The first thought struck into my mind was that something extraordinary has happened at the sight of Dharna. I too started pushing the students and somehow managed to enter the common room. To my surprise it was not dharna, but it was a t20 cricket match. As TV was too small and it was difficult for me to see the scorecard, on my toes I tried to peek over the heads but I failed and asked a boy beside me, “what’s happening”? He told me that Champion’s league has kicked off and this is a qualifying match, why so much fuss about just a qualifier? I thought and asked the boy. “It’s Mumbai vs. Lahore, and Lahore needs 50 something in last 5 over with Umar Akmal batting” The boy replied. Butterflies started flying in my stomach and rather than probing the rush, I went to be part of it.

Umar Akmal swiftly finished the match and Lahore Lions won their qualifying match against Mumbai Indians. My heart filled with excitement on extraordinary performance of underdogs against one of the top teams of Indian Premier League but mind was thinking otherwise. I can never forget that fiasco through which Pakistani players went through in the latest auction of IPL 2014 earlier this year. Pakistani Players were in the list of auction tells us that officially there was no obstacle for them in IPL 2014 but their deliberate negation from all the franchises combined was utterly humiliating for our cricketers, PCB and all the fans back home. It further took me back to first edition of IPL in which 7 Pakistani players were included in different franchises. Afridi was most expensive player among the 7, though he had a quiet tournament but his presence was impactful for the crowd. Umar Gul was highest wicket taker from Kolkata Knight Riders and Sohail Tanvir was the bowler of the tournament and played a pivotal role in winning the trophy for Rajhistan Royals against Chennai Super King.

In short, there is and there must be no doubt in anybody’s mind about the BCCI double standard treatment with Pakistani players. Javed Miandad, former Pakistani coach and test cricketer showed his open discontent back in 2012 and said that IPL treats Pakistani cricketers as untouchables, he further said, “It is unfortunate that Pakistanis are treated like untouchables as far as IPL is concerned. My question is who is to be blamed? Is it the BCCI or the Indian government? One should come clear on whose decision is this, otherwise the blame game would continue and Pakistani cricketers will be deprived time and again”.

Mumbai Attacks definitely ignited the political situation between India and Pakistan but why cricketers were dragged into the whole cameo is hard to digest. Against this entire backdrop, I became skeptic of inclusion of Lahore Lions in Champions league. A board which is continuously wasting no opportunity to harm Pakistani Cricket is allowing Pakistani domestic cricket teams to play the biggest International cricket league on regular basis. This is no coincidence or we should not get obliged by the fact that BCCI allows our domestic teams to enter the Champions league almost every year.

The CLT20 like IPL is not less than a corporation and corporations think in term of business. Let me take you back to the crowded TV room of Punjab University. The stadium was full too like the TV room and I have never witnessed so much audiences in a qualifier match, but it was Mumbai vs. Lahore, The marketing impetus of this match was not less than Pak India encounter, in fact in a way, it was more spicier. Later Lahore Lions managed to qualify into main tournament and there will be Lahore vs. Chennai and Lahore vs. Calcutta. Quite simply, if I own a corporation relating to cricket, how can I leave the Pakistani domestic team? How can I miss the opportunity of creating fixtures like Mumbai vs. Lahore? I would not. But when it comes to inclusion of individual’s players I can manage to run my corporation without them as nobody will miss them when already such big cricketing names are there. But yes, I will never miss the opportunity of creating Mumbai vs. Lahore.

Though, people argue that IPL is solely an Indian league but CLT20 on other hand is jointly owned by BCCI, and boards of Australia and South Africa. Some think that there is no link between both bodies and their terms and conditions are different but to believe all this is equal to fooling yourself.  Firstly, Sundar Raman is Chief Operating officer (COO) of both IPL and CPL and secondly, IPL is by large privileged because their three teams get included in CLT2O against one from every other country every year. These two facts are convincing enough to believe that there is not much difference between BCCI, IPL or CLT20.  

Equation is simple, when it comes to inclusion of our players in IPL, our players are at advantage because it surely gives an immense opportunity to a player to groom himself under foreign coaches and learn new experiences from players across the globe. But when it comes to inclusion of whole domestic team, CLT20 is at advantage. So it’s not about strained political relations between Pakistan and India, it’s not about the issuance of visas, it’s not about any terrorist attack, it’s all about business and in midst of that business, BCCI or IPL or CLT20  turn no opportunity down to humiliate Pakistani cricketers.