New Delhi: The upcoming World Cup clash between India and Pakistan will not lead to the resumption of sporting ties between the South Asian nuclear rivals, Indian Sports Minister Vikram Verma said on Thursday. Verma, who also holds the portfolio of youth affairs in Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee's cabinet, warned that the embargo India slapped on cricketing ties with Pakistan after June 2000 will remain in place.
The high-voltage tie between Saurav Ganguly's squad, which overnight beat England by 82 runs, and Pakistan on Saturday at Centurion Park in Durban is being billed as a clash of the titans. Verma also said the upcoming game will not help in normalising bilateral ties, soured by five decades of mutual hostilities over the disputed Himalayan territory of Kashmir. "We are not treating Saturday's match as the resumption of cricketing ties because this is the World Cup and in the World Cup anyone can come from any group and we are only playing under that policy," Verma said. "And our policy is that neither we will invite Pakistan to India nor would we go to Pakistan. There will be no one-to-one One-day tournaments or Test matches between us and Pakistan.
"But if it is an international event at a neutral venue such as the World Cup in South Africa then there is no problem," the minister said in an interview in New Delhi. "This clash is by chance because Pakistan has come from one group and we have to play them to reach the Super Six. We will just play as if we play any other country and our policy remains firm that there will be no bilateral cricketing contact," he said. India and Pakistan have not played each other in two and a half years but they could have clashed during last September's ICC Championship Trophy in Colombo had Pakistan made it to the finals. Copyright AFP 2001