New Delhi: Indian Sports Minister Uma Bharti criticised on Monday the national cricket board's announcement that it would participate in the Asian Test Championship (ATC) in Pakistan later this year. "The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) should not take the liberty of making such announcements," she said here. "To play in Pakistan, the BCCI has to first give a written proposal to the Sports Ministry which in turn would forward it to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA). The final decision rests with the MEA," Bharti said. "No such proposal of a tour of Pakistan in September has been received by the Ministry." The Asian Test championship will bring together Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh and will be fought between September and February. The proposed Indo-Pakistan match up in September would be the first Test the two countries have played since 1999, when Pakistan toured India despite threats from Hindu fundamentalists. India has not played a Test in Pakistan since a four-match tour in India cancelled a scheduled tour of Pakistan in December and then pulled out of the Sharjah series in the Gulf. The weekend decision to play in the ATC came days after India invited Pakistan military ruler General Pervez Musharraf for peace talks. India accuses Pakistan of backing Muslim rebels in the disputed Himalayan state of Kashmir, which has sparked two of the South Asian rivals' three wars since they gained independence from Britain in 1947.
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