New Delhi: It is all over, India won"t play ball with Pakistan. The strained bilateral ties between the two neighbours are once again taking a toll on cricket. Bilateral tours between the two team had resumed in 2004. On Friday, Dec 18 Union Sports Minister M S Gill announced in Parliament that Indian cricket team will not tour to Pakistan following Nov 26 Mumbai terror attacks.
"Is it possible for one team to arrive in Mumbai and indulge in mass murder, and have another team go and play cricket in the winter afternoon sun at Lahore," Mr Gill asked reporters.
The sports minister"s comments were an indication that the show will not go on. The Congress, too, echoed similar views. In response to the questions by the media persons, Congress spokesperson Manish Tiwari said, "I don"t think it would be appropriate to continue relations that can be construed as letting Pakistan off the hook."
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) had sought the government"s permission for the Jan 13 to Feb 19 tour involving three tests, five one-day games and a 20-20 international, but was yet to receive a response. India"s decision to call off the tour would be bad news for the Pakistani team which has not played a test for over a year. It can even ruin the game in Pakistan.
As evidence on the Mumbai bombings increasingly point towards Pakistan, chances of the tour going ahead looked dreary. International Cricket Council (ICC) chief executive Haroon Lorgat has suggested that the teams consider playing the series at neutral venues if the Indian government refused permission to tour Pakistan.
The sports minister said sporting contact meant to enhance friendship, and the cricket series was not a commercial drama to be held under surveillance of thousands of security personnel. Gill"s comments came a day after the head of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Ijaz Butt flew to India to try to save the series. India has already blocked a tour to Pakistan by its junior hockey team.
The ministry of external affairs has not been in favour of the Indian cricket team touring Pakistan in view of the prevailing security situation. They were of the view that it was not worth risking security of cricketers. Pranab Mukherjee the Union External Affairs Minister also said in Parliament that the Pakistan tour cannot happen at present on security reasons.