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Timeline: India, Pakistan 'cricket diplomacy'

The meeting of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Pakistan's Yousuf Raza Gilani at the cricket World Cup semi-final is the latest attempt at cricket diplomacy in South Asia.

delhi Updated: Mar 30, 2011 11:21 IST

The meeting of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Pakistan's Yousuf Raza Gilani at the cricket World Cup semi-final is the latest attempt at cricket diplomacy in South Asia.

Cricket has frequently been the victim of poor relations between the neighbours, with tours blocked for years because of bad-blood, but it has also been used to build trust and confidence when ties are improving.

Here are key dates in the troubled history of India and Pakistan as well as the attempts to mend fences through the sub-continent's shared passion for cricket:

- 1947: End of British rule and partition of the sub-continent into mainly Hindu-majority India and the Muslim-majority state of Pakistan. Partition triggers widespread religious bloodshed in which hundreds of thousands die.

- 1947-49: The two new states go to war over the Muslim-majority state of Kashmir, which is also partitioned, along a de facto border that neither accepts to this day.

- 1965: A new war over Kashmir ends inconclusively.

- 1971: The two countries go to war over East Pakistan, which secedes to form the new nation of Bangladesh.

- 1974: India explodes first nuclear device in an underground test.

- 1987: Pakistan's Zia-ul-Hq launches "cricket diplomacy" by watching a cricket Test match between India and Pakistan with then India PM Rajiv Gandhi, defusing tension as both countries mass troops on their borders.

- 1989: India tours Pakistan for a full Test series.

-- Muslim separatist groups begin anti-India campaign in Kashmir. New Delhi accuses Pakistan of arming and training the militants. Relations sour severely and cricket suffers.

- 1992: Destruction of Babri mosque in Ayodhya strains relations further.

- 1993: Serial blasts in Mumbai kill around 250. India blames Pakistan for harbouring the key suspect.

- 1997: India returns to Pakistan for first time in eight years to play a limited series of one-day internationals.

- 1998: Both countries carry out tit-for-tat nuclear weapons tests, raising tension across the world.

- 1999: Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee holds summit with his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif in Lahore, leading to a thaw in relations.

-- Later in the year, the Pakistani team tours India for first time since 1987 despite protests from Hindu extremists in India. The victorious Pakistanis receive a standing ovation during the first game.

-- The goodwill vanishes as Indian troops fight a brief but bloody conflict with Pakistan-backed forces in the mountains of Kargil in Indian-held Kashmir.

- 2001: Vajpayee holds a summit with Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf in Agra, which ends in failure because of differences over Kashmir.

-- India blames Pakistan-based militants for an attack on the parliament in New Delhi that leaves 15 people dead.

- 2003: Both countries agree a ceasefire on the Line of Control in Kashmir, improving relations.

- 2004: They launch a formal peace process, known as the Composite Dialogue, to address a broad range of bilateral issues.

-- India tours Pakistan for a full Test series for the first time since 1989 as part of a diplomatic initiative called the "Friendship Series." Many Indian fans report being welcomed like long-lost brothers.

- 2005: Pakistan tours India. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh invites then Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf to New Delhi to watch a match. They say afterwards that the peace process was now "irreversible."

- 2006: India tours Pakistan.

-- Serial blasts in Mumbai suburban trains kill 174. India blames Pakistan-based Islamist militants.

- 2008: Islamist gunmen attack Mumbai, killing 166 people. India blames Pakistan-based militants for the assault and suspends the peace dialogue.

- 2011: After a number of high-level contacts between the countries, they agree to restart their peace talks to resolve all outstanding issues, including the vexed subject of Kashmir.

-- Singh invites Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Gilani to watch the World Cup semi-final between the two rivals in Mohali.

Sources: AFP archives; the book "Batting For Peace" by Arne Naess-Holm (2008).