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Vajpayee, Musharraf may watch Lahore one-dayer

"However, a final nod is awaited from Govt of India," a newspaper reported on Saturday.

india Updated: Mar 13, 2004 19:58 IST

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf and Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee may together watch one of the two one-day cricket matches here, a newspaper reported on Saturday.

"Hectic efforts are on to host the Indian prime minister. However, a final nod is awaited from the Indian government," The News said.

The Lahore one-dayers will be played on March 21 and 24.

"The hotline between the two foreign offices is warm for the last couple of days for ensuring Vajpayee's brief visit to Pakistan," the newspaper added.

If the visit materialises, it "will go a long way in cementing ties between the two nuclear neighbours, giving an impetus to existing confidence-building measures," it noted.

"The Indian PM will arrive in Lahore in a special plane in the morning and will leave for New Delhi in the evening," the newspaper said.

The paper referred to the forthcoming visit to the sub-continent by US Secretary of State Colin Powell and said that a Vajpayee-Musharraf meeting at this time "will be of great significance.

"This rendezvous is expected to generate a lot of goodwill among the people and governments of both the countries.

"Moreover, it will send positive diplomatic aftershocks to the West, which has locked its attention on the ongoing peace initiatives between the two nuclear powers.

Asked about the possibility of a Vajpayee-Musharraf meeting, Inter-Services Public Relations chief Maj Gen Shaukat Sultan said: "I don't have (any) such information at the moment."

Asked if such a meeting would be seen in a positive light in view of the ongoing peace-process, he quipped: "Certainly."

"It is learnt the leadership of both countries has been working hard to make best of the cricket series by taking the process ahead in a big way," News said, noting that Vajpayee has asked the Indian team to win the hearts of Pakistani people besides the series.

The Pakistani government, according to News, "is making hectic efforts to ensure foolproof security during Vajpayee's stay in Lahore, if things went as planned.

"Unprecedented security measures will be taken before the arrival of guests from India, and heavy contingents of military, rangers and police will be deployed in Lahore for (this) purpose," the newspaper said.

A Vajpayee-Musharraf meeting would mark another phase of cricket diplomacy that had been initiated by former Pakistani president Zia-ul Haq.

Zia had flown to Jaipur to witness a one-dayer in 1987 "at a time when hostility between arch-rivals was at the peak. Cricket diplomacy had paid dividends earlier. It is expected to have a stronger impact this time round," News noted.

First Published: Mar 13, 2004 13:13 IST