Pakistan plans to host India in February
Published: Monday, May 5, 2003, 23:32 [IST]
Copyright AFP 2001
Indo-Pak ties unlikely to be resumed in 2003: Report
BCCI seeks PM's help on Indo-Pak ties
Lahore: Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chief Lieutenant General Tauqir Zia said on Monday he hoped India's team would visit Pakistan in February as both countries progressed towards normalised relations. "We are planning to host India in February 2004 and we have approached the International Cricket Council in this regard," Zia told reporters here on his return from Dubai, where he met his Indian counterpart, Jagmohan Dalmiya, on Saturday. "(The) Indian cricket Board is sincere in resuming the cricketing ties and is more than willing to send its team to Pakistan, but it needs its government's clearance," the PCB chief said. Officials and observers on both sides are optimistic that cricketing between India and Pakistan would soon be resumed as diplomatic ties appear to be on the mend. Dalmiya termed the progress a "beginning" but said that while the Indian government has indicated that it hopes to restart bilateral sporting ties, he ruled out the resumption of on-field cricket action this year. The India-Pakistan cricket rivalry opened with Pakistan's first ever Test in 1952 and has seen two stand-offs since: one when India played a three match series in Pakistan in 1978 and another in 1999-2000 when Pakistan played three Tests in India, despite threats from Hindu fundamentalists. But the Indian government refused to allow its team to travel to Pakistan in 2000 for a full tour, and the ongoing Kashmir dispute forced the cancellation of play in September 2001 for an Asian Test Championship and again in April-May of this year. India, which last toured Pakistan in 1997 for three One-day games, has not played a Test match in Pakistan since 1989. "The Indian Board has now sent a fresh request to its government for resumption of ties and with the progress made I am optimistic that the impasse will be broken next year," Zia said. Under the International Cricket Council's Future Test Programme plan, which requires all 10-member countries to play each other four times in a decade, Pakistan is scheduled to tour India in February 2004. However, Zia said that if India is to resume bilateral cricketing ties, it has to first play in Pakistan. "Once the ice is broken at the government level, I think cricket can be used as a confidence building measure," he said.