Thatscricket - News - Islamic parties in Pak hails resumption of series

Published: Tuesday, February 17, 2004, 2:03 [IST]
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Karachi:Key Pakistani Islamic parties have hailed resumption of cricketing ties between Pakistan and India and promised a trouble-free tour aimed at fostering people-to-people contacts.

"We believe there is nothing wrong if the two countries resume sports links, particularly cricket," the main fundamentalist party, Jamaat-i-Islami (JI), said.

"Our political stand is very clear on Kashmir, but we welcome the Indian team in Pakistan as we have welcomed the Indian Parliamentarian and other social groups," JI spokesman Sarfraz Ahmed said.

"Pakistanis are peace loving people, they love cricket and will not create any problem for visitors."

India's Hindu party Shiv Sena, credited with digging up a pitch at New Delhi's Feroz Shah Kotla ground just before India snapped cricketing ties with Pakistan in 1999, on Monday opposed the resumption of the sporting links saying it harmed national security.

"Politics and sports are two different things. We are not even against dialogue with India, " said Ahmed whose party backs a Kashmiri struggle against Indian rule.

"I don't play cricket and I don't know cricket. Most of our activists were not aware of the game, but if peace between the two countries can come through cricket why not," spokesman for the hardline Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI) Qari Usman said.

A three-member Indian security team after a visit to Pakistan last week expressed some reservations over the longer stay in Southern port city of Karachi and the Northwestern city of Peshawar, on the border with Afghanistan.

The proposed itinerary includes a Test match in Peshawar and one Test and a One-day game in Karachi.

The six party Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal (MMA) which heads the Government in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) and provincial cricket association have requested Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) not to relocate the Peshawar Test.

"The people of NWFP would be disappointed if the match is not played there," Usman said.

India is due to play three Tests and five One-day games on their first tour of Pakistan in 15 years.

The Indian Government on Saturday cleared the tour, the final programme of which is due in two days.

The two countries Monday, began three-day peace talks, first in more than two years, in a cordial atmosphere to improve bilateral ties following a landmark summit between Indian and Pakistani leaders last month.

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