Karachi: The Asian Cricket Council (ACC) on Sunday dismissed reports that India could opt out of major cricketing events like the World Cup to maintain its boycott of arch-rival Pakistan.
"The ACC feels India must play a leadership role for the betterment of cricket in Asia and reports of India not playing major events like the World Cup and International Cricket Council (ICC) Champions Trophy is not realistic," ACC secretary Zakir Hussain Syed told reporters. India has no sporting links with Pakistan and the two national teams last met on the cricket pitch during the Asia Cup in Dhaka two years ago. Reports last week suggested India may not play an ICC event in Sri Lanka in September this year or next year's World Cup in South Africa as Pakistan is one of the contesting teams. "India can't isolate itself from international cricket and to play in all international events is a commitment of ICC members," Syed said. India pulled its team from the on-going second Asian Test Championship last year, saying it would continue its boycott until Pakistan stops supporting 'cross border terrorism' in the Indian-administered part of disputed Kashmir. New Delhi also refused to allow India to tour Pakistan in December 2000 and put an embargo on playing alongside Pakistan in multi-national events. The ACC in February issued a warning to all member nations, but India's continued snubbing of cricketing ties and links with Pakistan has threatened the existence of the Asian body. An attack on Indian parliament on December 13 last year sparked tensions between the nuclear-capable rivals, and a series of irritants since then has dimmed chances of a sporting revival between the two countries. Indian Olympic Association (IOA) official Suresh Kalmadi visited Pakistan in March to assess the possibility of a revival but a bloody militant attack in Indian Kashmir earlier this month prompted India to rule out a re-think. Syed said that as well as the India-Pakistan row, the threat of extremist attacks in Pakistan has contributed to a crisis for the sport here. "Cricket is otherwise prospering in Asia. Hong Kong, Malaysia, Nepal, Singapore and the UAE are coming up but a standoff between Pakistan and India is harming the cause," Syed said. "Pakistan is in a difficult position at the moment with teams showing concerns over security and this matter can also be handled through cooperation in the ACC." Australian players have indicated their reluctance to go ahead with two planned tours to Pakistan this year after a suicide bomb blast in Karachi on May 8 killed 14 people including 11 French nationals. Syed said that various meetings next month will highlight the importance of cricket between Pakistan and India. The ACC Development Committee meets in Muscat on June 9- 10 with the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) chief Jagmohan Dalmiya as chairman. The Asian Cricket Foundation (ACF), the finance wing of the ACC, meets on June 25 while the ACC General Body meets on June 30, both in London. "Top on the agenda in all these meetings will be revival of cricket between Pakistan and India," Syed said. The ACC has also succeeded in convincing the ICC to hold its Development Committee meeting in Lahore in October this year.
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