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Can Nawaz Sharif convince India to resume cricketing ties?

Tuesday, 27 May 2014 - 7:15am IST | Place: New Delhi | Agency: DNA

There is a hope, albeit a thin slice of it, that during Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif's visit to India, resumption of cricketing ties between the two countries could be on the agenda.

Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Najam Sethi has been trying hard to convince at least one neighbouring cricket country to tour Pakistan.

And when Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif decided to attend the swearing-in ceremony of his newly-elected Indian counterpart Narendra Modi, Sethi saw an opportunity in it. As per highly placed sources in PCB, Sethi requested Sharif to make him a part of his delegation for India.

"The cricket diplomacy has always worked between the two countries. And this time around, it's only a question of full security assurance from Pakistan government which can convince any country to resume cricketing ties with us," said a senior PCB official on condition of anonymity.

When asked why Sethi has not been included in the Sharif's delegation, the source said: "It seems that PM office had already finalised the delegation before Sethi approached it. "However, PCB chairman has briefed the PM on Indo-Pak cricket relations and urged him to take up the issue with his counterpart during the meeting on Tuesday," said the official.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India and PCB recently signed an MoU to play six bilateral series between 2015 and 2022 with Pakistan due to host four of these six bilateral series.

"PCB is in talks with Sri Lanka Cricket, too, on hosting a short series. But the government so far has not given us a full assurance on security arrangements. Unless that happens, no country will take the risk of visiting Pakistan despite the fact that situation has really improved many a fold during these years," the source added.

Meanwhile, PCB chief Sethi also confirmed his meeting with Sharif. "The meeting with the PM was fruitful and I've briefed him on the various aspects on the cricket relations between two countries," Sethi said.
Sharif is a cricket enthusiast, and has spoken publicly about the need to use cricket to improve relations between the two nations.

"The PM also agreed on the proposal for holding elections in the board at the earliest," Sethi said on the new PCB constitution drafted in 2013.

Meanwhile, former Pakistan skipper Zaheer Abbas has also expressed his happiness over the latest developments. "PCB chief is trying his best to restore bilateral series and our PM's tour will further boost chances of resuming cricketing ties," said Abbas, who is also a principal advisor to PCB chief.

India and Pakistan have not played a full Test bilateral series since 2008 terror attack in Mumbai. All eyes are now on Sharif if he can convince the Indian government on resuming the much-awaited cricketing ties.




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