Gautam Gambhir in an interview to India Today has suggested that there should be no sport whatsoever with Pakistan. He has even suggested that actors, who are in favour of any kind of engagement with Pakistan, are wrong and are saying what they are because they have not lost a dear one.First things first — I consider this to be Gautam’s personal opinion and in that sense respect his sentiments. However, I disagree with what he has said. And here’s why.The Indian hockey team is playing Pakistan in Kuantan, Malaysia on Saturday in the Asian Champions Trophy. Taking off from Gautam does it make the Indian hockey team any less nationalist or any less patriotic just because they are playing Pakistan? Should engagement not be an individual choice and just because they will be playing Pakistan they are surely not any less Indian! (India-Pakistan women series in doubt, India’s World Cup qualification under threat)In the absence of any clear pronouncement by the government of India on sporting and cultural ties with Pakistan, there is very little the hockey or for that matter the cricket team can do. If I understand right the India vs Pakistan match in the Champions Trophy in England in June 2017 is also going ahead and the BCCI did not do anything in the recently-concluded ICC meeting in Cape Town to suggest that India wouldn’t be playing in that match. (Pakistan sponsor of terrorism, no question of playing cricket with them: Anurag Thakur)ICC Director David Peever is on record stating that the match is going ahead as planned. Now if Gautam is selected in the Indian team for the Champions Trophy will he play against Pakistan or not? Will he then state that playing Pakistan is wrong and withdraw from the match? Will that not be an anti-Indian stand in some sense? Letting the team down when the country needs him to do national duty?advertisementIn the absence of a stated government policy, sports teams have very little choice but to follow international sports calendars. All they can do is give their best in beating Pakistan in what is a highly charged encounter. But to state that they are wrong in playing, as is implied in this instance, is more a radical nationalist stand bordering on jingoism than anything else. Did Gautam for that matter stop playing Pakistan in the aftermath of 26/11 and does that make him any less patriotic than he is now? As ambassadors who people listen to, it is important our sports stars take a stand and in that sense Gautam’s statements are indeed welcome. At the same time we need to be measured and realistic and think things through a little more which I dare say has not been the case in this instance.