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|A day of great relief in Pakistan |
Saturday, February 14 2004 19:14 Hrs (IST)
Khan told mediapersons that despite the intense speculation, he never believed that the tour was in doubt.
"Only the media speculated that the tour was in doubt. But we were optimistic as we have not heard anything officially from the Indian Government or the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI)," he said adding that any adverse decision would have deprived millions of cricket fans on either side of the border.
Khan, a former Foreign secretary of Pakistan, also said the PCB effectively ruled out the option of playing in neutral venues like Sri Lanka or Sharjah. "There was no question of postponement as there was no way cricket matches were possible in the extreme dry heat of May and after".
"The announcement has made the PCB as well as the cricket lovers in India and Pakistan extremely happy," he said.
The relief was palpable as the Pakistan Foreign office officials, the top brass of Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) and the captain Inzamam-ul Haq expressed their relief and satisfaction on hearing the news from New Delhi.
Haq expressed his sense of relief after the end of the speculation over the fate of India's tour. "We are ready for the tour with adequate preparations," he told mediapersons at Lahore.
He said despite the doubts the tour was never in doubt. "Now that the speculation ended we can focus on our preparations."
The reported comments by Indian Home Ministry officials that the tour may not be cleared due to security and political reasons had caused a deep sense of disquiet among the Foreign office and PCB officials.
Top PCB officials had warned yesterday that any move to delay or cancel the tour could jeopardise the thaw in the relations and cast a shadow on the talks between the two countries starting here to agree the modalities for thecomposite dialogue to discuss issues like Kashmir and terrorism.
Commenting on the Indian Government's announcement, a senior Pakistan official said the clearance has helped to bring down the temperatures, which was rising again.
"Any Indian decision to cancel or postpone the tour could have had an adverse impact on the entire peace process," he said.
Assuring that Pakistan would do everything at its disposal to provide foolproof security for the Indian players, the PCB chief said he along with other top officials would have one final round of talks with the three-member BCCI team currently visiting Pakistan.
PCB terms India's decision as 'positive one'