India and Pakistan to resume sporting ties

Rival neighbours to resume direct sports games, frozen since the deadly 2008 Mumbai attacks, in a bid to thaw ties.

    India broke off diplomatic relations with Pakistan after the 2008 Mumbai attacks which killed 166 people [Reuters]

    India and Pakistan have agreed to resume direct sporting ties, including cricket games, which were frozen after the deadly Mumbai attacks in 2008.

    The move comes just two weeks after Manmohan Singh, the Indian prime minister, and his Pakistani counterpart, Yousuf Raza Gilani, watched their respective teams play in the semi-final of the Cricket World Cup in northwest India.

    The national cricket boards of the nuclear-armed, traditional rivals are expected to decide on exactly when the first cricket series will take place, several Indian newspapers reported, citing unidentified government sources.

    India broke off diplomatic and sporting links with Pakistan after 10 gunmen launched co-ordinated attacks on targets in Mumbai, killing 166 people in November 2008. India blamed Pakistan-based fighters for the assault.

    The Mint newspaper quoted one government source as saying that India's cricket team would tour Pakistan next year, with a return series in India the year after.

    Safety concerns

    Ratnakar Shetty , the chief administrative officer of the Board of Control for Cricket in India, told the AFP news agency that his organisation was yet to be formally notified of the decision to resume cricket ties.

    No international cricket team has visited Pakistan to play any match since fighters launched a gun and grenade assault on the visiting Sri Lankan cricket team on March 3, 2009.

    The attack saw Pakistan stripped of its right to co-host the just-concluded 2011 Cricket World Cup.

    Principal adviser to the International Cricket Council, IS Bindra said the resumption of direct cricket ties was a "welcome step".

    "It's a nice thing not only for India, but for world cricket as a whole that Pakistan will come into the mainstream of world cricket," he added.

    Former Indian all-rounder Madal Lal also welcomed the move, but said the authorities would have to guarantee the safety of players touring Pakistan.

    "It is always good for the game when India and Pakistan play each other," Lal said. "But the Indian government must be very careful. They must ensure that the situation is conducive for cricket in Pakistan."

    On March 28, top Indian and Pakistani officials resumed their first formal peace talks since the Mumbai attacks, ahead of their semi-final Cricket World Cup match.

    The talks in New Delhi were aimed at repairing relations between the nuclear rivals, who have fought three wars since their independence from British rule in 1947.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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