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Govt says okay ‘in principle’
- BILATERAL CRICKET WITH PAK

Calcutta: The Atal Bihari Vajpayee government is understood to have cleared, “in principle,” restoration of one-to-one cricket ties with Pakistan.

According to well-placed sources of The Telegraph, a recent meeting at the “highest level” has effectively set the ball rolling for Team India to tour Pakistan — subject to their being no reservations over security — and for Pakistan to visit India for the first time since early 1999. The Indians’ last trip to Pakistan was in late 1997.

No “formal paperwork” has yet been done, but that now appears a formality. For the record, Prime Minister Vajpayee himself publicly indicated last week that he was not averse to the resumption of bilateral exchanges.

Incidentally, Rajya Sabha member Rajiv Shukla, who is closely associated with the Board of Control for Cricket in India, has been a key player in recent developments.

It’s significant, of course, that the Pakistan Cricket Board has already invited India for a series next February.

Had the respective calendars been somewhat different, the invitation would definitely have been for earlier. However, irrespective of when the tour takes place, the security factor will dominate.

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