Islamabad: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif wants cricket between Pakistan and India despite prevailing tensions between the two neighbours, a close aide of the prime minister has said.
Sharif is an ardent fan of cricket. Vetoing a series between the two countries can never be a desired decision for him, The Nation quoted the aide as saying on Tuesday.
“The decision to bind Pakistan Cricket Board to seek permission for series with India is because there are no positive signals from India. Shiv Sena is promoting hatred and Sharif is concerned about the players’ safety,” said the prime ministerial aide.
He said Sharif was a strong advocate of Pakistan-India cricket like millions of fans on both sides of the border.
Sharif was hoping for improved ties with India where cricket could be taken as a sport, not war, he said.
“Yes, there are political tensions but we never wanted this. Sport should be taken as a sport. We hope we will be able to solve this issue,” he added.
Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, however, was strongly against playing with India.
Khan on Tuesday said he would oppose Pakistan’s visit to India because New Delhi backed Shiv Sena’s extremism.
Pakistan and India have not played a full series since the 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai which India said were carried out by militants based across the border.
Given the sensitive relationship between the two countries, a fresh government Non-Objection Certificate will be required before each series.
The chairman of PCB’s executive committee Najam Sethi said he would advise the board not to accept any offer from the BCCI to play the series in India.
“In my opinion we should not go to India as it is our home series and the BCCI should honour the MoU they signed with us which states Pakistan will host this series,” he said.
Sethi was chairman of the board when the PCB and BCCI signed the MoU to play six series between 2015 and 2023 with Pakistan hosting the first series in December this year in the United Arab Emirates.
Defence analyst Lt. General Talat Masood (retired) said Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi should realise that backing extremist groups cannot work.
“Modi should realise his current policies need reforms and he should revise them as early as possible. Modi has made wrong choice by not adopting secularism-based policies.”
The analysts believe the two nations must engage in sports and improve ties to the benefit of the millions of people in the region.
They argued that India must ensure a conducive environment for Pakistanis to visit the neighbouring country.