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India ready to play ball in Pak

In a move to keep the Mohali spirit alive, India has backed Pakistan prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani’s proposal to have the cricket teams of both countries play a three-match series in Pakistan. Aloke Tikku reports. Graphics: What the future holds

cricket Updated: Apr 14, 2011 02:03 IST
Aloke Tikku

In a move to keep the Mohali spirit alive, India has backed Pakistan prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani’s proposal to have the cricket teams of both countries play a three-match series in Pakistan.

Gilani on Tuesday spoke of attempts to restart cricketing ties with India. “Negotiations are underway and nothing has been finalised as yet,” he said.

On Wednesday, Indian government sources confirmed Delhi ’s readiness to walk the extra mile. "It is a sport that has a following on both sides… I think everyone would love to watch them play," an official said.

India’s in-principle decision to send the team — preferably around the time Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visits Islamabad later this year — comes amid reports that Pakistani-born Canadian citizen Tahawwur Rana has admitted to the role of Pakistan’s ISI in the 26/11 Mumbai attacks.

"This is surrendered foreign policy. We condemn this abject surrender of the government,” said BJP spokesperson Prakash Javdekar, responding to the government talking about continuing the dialogue process. “It has lost the opportunity to expose after the confession. (External affairs minister SM) Krishna should have said that unless Pakistan takes action against terror, there is no meaning in talks”.

But India’s security establishment has also come around to the point that not talking is not a solution.

"Ours is a measured response… continue talking as long as the other side indicates a positive approach and nudge them to deliver on their intentions. So far, they have not,” sources said.

Home minister P Chidambaram recently acknowledged Pakistan was yet to deliver on commitments to act against 26/11 terrorists. For a country struck off the list of venues for international sporting events after the 2009 terrorists attack on the Lanka cricket team in Lahore, the proposed series in Pakistan would do more than deepen people-to-people contact.

Home ministry officials said they would need to take extra precautions to ensure the security of the Indian team in light of the 2009 attack. “That should not be a problem,” one said.

There might, however, be difficulties in persuading the BCCI to indicate a set of dates and in countering the BJP. A BCCI official indicated they weren’t really excited at the prospect of the visit. "We are apprehensive about this plan," he said.

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