Legendary paceman Wasim Akram on Thursday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to end India’s cricketing boycott of Pakistan, saying the ongoing impasse was hurting fans across the globe.
Pakistan is awaiting New Delhi’s clearance for a full series, the first between the two countries since 2007, that was due to be played in United Arab Emirates starting December.
India called off most sporting fixtures between the rivals after the 2008 Mumbai attacks, which were planned by militants in Pakistan, though they did play a limited-overs series in 2012.
Recent cross-border tensions including firing across the disputed territory of Kashmir have put the tour in doubt, but Wasim, 49, said he was hopeful Modi would give it the green light.
“I request prime minister Modi to clear the tour,” Wasim said. “I heard that he told his cabinet that he doesn’t have any problems in playing sports with Pakistan so cricket should flourish.
“What I have noticed is that PM Modi is striving to make India a superpower and they are cricketing superpower so they have a duty to look around the world and cooperate in others’ progress so I am sure he will okay the series,” he added.
Wasim, considered the best left-arm pacer in history, said India versus Pakistan fixtures were a part of cricket’s fabric and their loss was hurting the game.
“It’s the loss for the cricketing world which has a small base. India-Pakistan is the ultimate contest and I grew up dreaming to feature in an India-Pakistan match.”
He fondly recalled Pakistan’s tour of India in 1999, where his team beat the hosts in two of their three Tests.
“We went to India under severe threats but what happened to us there is history,” said Wasim, who was captain at the time. “We were accorded a warm welcome everywhere we went and the love and affection was unbelievable.
“The same thing happened when India toured Pakistan in 2004 and even now when I tour India as a commentator people meet me with great affection and they ask me why are we not playing cricket.
“Billions enjoy Indo-Pak matches and its intensity outmatches every other rivalry as no team wants to lose and no fan wants to see his team lose, so I sincerely hope that everything is set aside and cricketing ties go on uninterrupted.”