New Delhi: The Indian government has ruled out immediate resumption of bilateral cricket ties with Pakistan despite signs of a thaw in relations between the two countries.
“It won’t happen overnight,” Union sports minister Vikram Verma said.
“It is not that the train service is resumed today and we can start playing (bilateral cricket) tomorrow,” Verma said, adding that a friendly atmosphere must be created first.
The government banned bilateral games with Pakistan in 2000 because of political tension, but has not opposed playing each other in multilateral events of the ICC like the World Cup.
The BCCI last week appealed to Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee in an attempt to take advantage of the changing political climate.But Verma said bilateral cricket would not be allowed until diplomatic and cultural relations improved.
“The Pakistan government backs normal sporting ties, but there are hardliners in that country also,” he said. “What if such people demonstrate on the streets and react violently against our team. Such an atmosphere can also develop in India if the Pakistan team comes.”
Meanwhile, Pakistan coach and former Test skipper Javed Miandad says that the time has come for India and Pakistan to resume cricket contests.
“Everything is getting better... The governments (of) India and Pakistan are coming to the table and trying to negotiate. I’m sure India and Pakistan will start playing,” Miandad said on Wednesday in Colombo, where Pakistan is preparing for a tri-series against Sri Lanka and New Zealand.
Governments “should understand one thing: they shouldn’t bring politics into cricket or any other sport,” Miandad said.
He said he didn’t understand why India played Pakistan in the World Cup in South Africa, while refusing to play in the Asia Cup scheduled in Pakistan this month.
“We don’t want to see any country picking and choosing the tournaments,” said Miandad, adding that all Test-playing nations should honour their schedules set out by the ICC.
Miandad, who played 124 Test matches and 233 one-dayers for Pakistan, said regular matches between India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh was important for cricket’s development in Asia.
Looking ahead to the tri-series starting on Saturday, Miandad said his squad was prepared to give its best against Sri Lanka and New Zealand.