~~Cricket... a confidence-builder for nuclear rivals~~

Published: Monday, April 28, 2003, 0:38 [IST]
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Karachi: Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Lieutenant General Tauqir Zia said on Sunday he hoped that once the ice is broken between archrivals Pakistan and India, cricket can be a confidence building measure between the nuclear rivals. "Once the ice is broken through dialogue between the Pakistani and Indian governments, I think cricket can be a confidence-building measure and it will remain peaceful," Zia told reporters. Cricket officials of both the countries are set to meet on the sidelines of the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) meeting in Dubai on May 3 at a time when Indian Premier Atal Behari Vajpayee has offered a hand of friendship to Islamabad. India had severed its cricketing ties with Pakistan over the Kashmir issue and had not allowed its team to play Pakistan in any bilateral series. Both teams have played just One Limited Over match in two and a half years, a World Cup match at Centurion in South Africa last month. "India will have to show the world and we can take more and more steps, we have special things to strengthen the ties," the PCB chief said. Pakistan earlier this month pulled out from the biennial Asia Cup scheduled in August this year in Dhaka, Bangladesh as a tit-for-tat measure in response to India's refusal to send its team to Pakistan for the planned series in April-May this year. "We never wanted to go in the negatives, but India has shown an adamant stance but still I have not lost all hope," he said. The relationship deteriorated following an attack on Indian parliament in New Delhi in December 2002 which India blamed on Pakistan based militants. "India refused visas to ACC development manager Zakir Syed last year to a school team which wanted to compete in Mumbai and then did not give visas to our golfers, so they have blocked sports and mixed in politics." India pulled out of Asian Test championship in September 2001 and then turned down Pakistan's invitation to play a Golden Jubilee Test last year. "The International Cricket Council has clear instructions that politics should not be mixed with sports but India has done that, we now hope things change." Copyright AFP 2001

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