Cricket will promote peace and friendship: Ramiz
KARACHI: The revival of cricket between Pakistan and India next month would play an vital role in normalizing relations between the neighbours, Pakistan Cricket Board chief executive Ramiz Raja said Sunday.
“We feel that the revival of cricket brings both the countries to the threshold of many good things,” Raja said.
“With the ice broken we would see multiplying effects of free travel between India and Pakistan, ease in visa restriction and trade regulations.”
Cricket is a passion in both countries, who have fought three wars since independence from Britain in 1947. Bilateral matches remained suspended between the two countries since 2000 amid rising political tensions. New Delhi revived sporting links in October last year, which paved the way for the Indian cricket team’s first tour to Pakistan in 15 years, after Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee initiated the peace process by offering a “hand of friendship” to Pakistan in April. The ball was set rolling on Saturday with the announcement of the itinerary of five one-day internationals and three Tests between March 13- April 17.
“This is a great moment in the sporting history of Pakistan and India and its great that cricket is given a chance to promote peace and friendship,” said Raja, who led a Pakistan side in India’s Independence Cup in 1997. But Raja also urged fans on both the sides to check their emotions, which run high when India and Pakistan play in cricket with players on the losing side face the wrath of the dejected fans.
Pakistani players received death threats following their defeat against India in the 1996 World Cup quarter-final at Bangalore while Indian authorities had to evacuate Eden Gardens in Calcutta due to crowd trouble when Pakistan came close to beating India in a Test match on their last tour in 1998-99.
Raja believed the PCB faces a gigantic task in organising the series with just 17 days left. “We have been working round the clock and know the enormity of the task of hosting the matches, providing security to the tourists, tickets and other logistics but we are up to it and hope that it would be a successful series.”
India’s team arrives in Lahore on March 10 and plays a warm up one-day game the following day. They will play the first of five one-day games in Karachi on March 13. However, the authorities have dropped Karachi and Peshawar as venues for Test matches for security reasons. —AFP