Peter Oborne, The Spectator’s associate editor, is something of a legend in Pakistan — as least among the defence establishment types we met there. That’s because every year he takes a cricket team on a tour of the country. Last September, in Miranshah, they played a ‘Peace Cup’ match against an XI consisting of current or retired Pakistani internationals in front of a crowd of about 15,000. The Pakistan army turned the occasion into a PR stunt, since Pakistanis love cricket and the military elite wants young people to take up sport rather than global jihad.
I don’t want to detract from Peter’s efforts. Surely, though, our government should do one better and send the England cricket team over? Such a move would go a long way towards undoing decades of bad feeling. Yes, security would be a concern. But Brexit Britain is supposed to be all about being bold and open to the world. An England tour of Pakistan would be exactly that.
This is an extract from Freddy Gray’s diary, which appears in this week’s Spectator