Pak cricket chief set for India trip next month

Pakistan cricket chief Zakar Ashraf said Friday he hoped to visit India next month to further efforts to revive bilateral ties stalled since terrorists attacks on Mumbai three years ago.

By (AFP)

Published: Fri 18 Nov 2011, 10:14 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 7:33 AM

“I have high hopes of reviving ties with India,” Ashraf told AFP on the sidelines of third day-night match between Pakistan and Sri Lanka here on Friday. “I have received a positive reply from India today and hope to tour them next month.”

Ashraf’s comments came on the day when blind teams from both countries started a low profile series in Pakistan, the first visit by any cricket team to Pakistan in three years.

India stalled all bilateral ties with their South Asian neighbours in the wake of terrorist attacks on their commercial hub Mumbai, which New Delhi blamed on militants based in Pakistan.

But there has been a recent thaw, with Pakistan declaring India “the most favoured nation” and both prime ministers vowing to improve ties during their meeting at the SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) conference earlier this month.

Ashraf expressed hope he would meet with Narayan Srinivasan, his counterpart in Board of Control for Cricket in India.

“I have high hopes of a positive meeting and when we can have sporting events like kabbadi and blind cricket with India, why not top level cricket which is already regarded as the most sought after series in the game,” said Ashraf, who took over last month.

Ashraf said the International Cricket Council (ICC) has already termed Indo-Pak matches as an “iconic series” and everyone is waiting for both the nations to play.

As per the ICC Future Tours Programme, Pakistan and India are slated to play in March next year but India’s hectic schedule is a big hurdle in the series.

But Ashraf hoped a slot will be found.

“When there is a will, there is a way and we hope the bilateral ties to resume sooner than later,” said Ashraf.

Pakistan last toured India in 2007, while their rivals have not toured them since featuring in the Asia Cup in 2008.

Indian ambassador to United Arab Emirates (UAE) Kapanaiah Lokesh, who met Ashraf here Friday, said he will convey the sentiments of people in UAE to New Delhi.

“India playing Pakistan is the highlight of international cricket and in the recent positive atmosphere between the two countries it is conducive to play cricket and I will convey this to New Delhi,” said Lokesh.

“Cricket is in the blood of people in both countries and it can be used as soft diplomacy as in the past, relations have improved in the past as well through cricket,” said the Indian ambassador.

Pakistan’s ambassador to UAE Jameel Khan welcomed the prospect of a bilateral series being revived.

“People from both India and Pakistan want to see both the teams play and if the venue is UAE we are more than keen to host the matches,” said Khan. “It is the most followed series in the world and people should not be deprived of it.”

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