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Centre mulls Board proposal
- INDO-PAK BILATERAL CRICKET

New Delhi: The Centre is considering the Board of Control for Cricket in India’s (BCCI) proposal to resume bilateral ties with Pakistan, said Union sports minister Vikram Verma Wednesday.

“Earlier, any application from the cricket board on playing with Pakistan was rejected as a matter of policy. But this time it has not been rejected. We are considering their proposal,” Verma said.

In early May, the BCCI had appealed to the Centre, seeking a resumption of bilateral ties with a series sometime around September. Verma said the sports ministry will discuss the matter with the foreign affairs ministry, the home ministry and finally with the Prime Minister before arriving at any decision.

He, however, added that the overall improvement in bilateral ties between the countries will be assessed before deciding whether to resume cricketing ties with Pakistan.

“We still have two months to decide. We will assess the overall situation and observe to what extent the relations have improved before taking a decision,” Verma said.

India severed bilateral cricket ties with Pakistan after the Kargil war in 1999 and have not played a Test match in that country since 1989. But, Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s recent peace initiatives have raised fresh hopes.

Verma hinted the issue could be viewed positively in the light of recent developments and that he was personally not in favour of playing against Pakistan at a neutral venue.

“If we decide to play, why should we go to a neutral venue to restore ties' We might as well go to Pakistan and further improve relations,” Verma said.

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