UN invites Pak cricketers to serve as its ambassadors

Published: Thursday, May 19, 2005, 23:53 [IST]
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Karachi:The United Nations (UN) has commended the Pakistan-India cricket series which helped promoted peace between the cricket-mad nations and invited the Pakistan team to serve as its ambassador for 2005, an official said.

"The United Nations in a letter have appreciated the peace-promoting cricket between Pakistan and India and have invited Pakistan cricket team to serve as spokesperson of IYPSE (International Year of Sports and Physical Education) for 2005," Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) spokesman Abbas Zaidi told AFP.

The letter, written by Adolf Ogi, special adviser to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan on sports for development and peace, praised the cricket Boards of the two countries.

"The peaceful sporting events held in the last two years have contributed significantly in promoting peace in the region," wrote Ogi.

"The two Boards deserve full appreciation for hosting the events to promote peace and harmony. Cricket has proved that it has the potential to promote peace," the letter said.

Pakistan and India, who have fought three wars since winning independence from the British rule in 1947, came close to a fourth war three years ago.The South Asian rivals had millions of troops at the respective borders before a "hand of friendship" offered by former Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee paved way for normalisation of relations.

The thaw in relations also removed a three-year ban on bilateral sporting events in October 2003.

"The two cricket series have played a significant role and brought people of both the countries closer," said the letter, referring to India's tour to Pakistan last year, their first across the border since 1989.

Pakistan paid a return trip to India earlier this year.

They are now gearing up to host India for another three Tests and five One-day games early next year.

More than 10,000 Indian fans crossed the border to watch the 2004 series and were warmly received in Pakistan which paved way for further confidence-building measures.

Around 3,000 Pakistanis crossed border to watch the first Test at Mohali in March followed by President Pervez Musharraf's visit to New Delhi to watch the last One-day match and hold talks with Indian government.

PCB chairman Shaharyar Khan thanked the UN for the gesture.

"We are thankful to the UN for appreciating our efforts. We would continue to work in tandem with the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to hold such peaceful series in future as we realise that cricket can act as tool of peace," said Khan.

The PCB also accepted the UN offer and said Pakistan's national team would always act as ambassadors of peace.

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