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India Cancels Cricket Tour of Pakistan


A tour by India's national cricket team to Pakistan early next year has been canceled. The move was widely anticipated, in wake of the terror attack on Mumbai which India blames on Islamic extremists from Pakistan.

The announcement was made Thursday in parliament by Sports Minister M.S. Gill and the Board of Control for Cricket in India. BCCI Vice President Rajeev Shukla told reporters in New Delhi the timing is not right for such an event.

"Taking into account the recent developments, as well as the overall circumstances prevailing at present, it is not considered feasible to accord government permission to the proposed tour," he explained.

The Indian team had been scheduled to be in Pakistan from January 13 through February 19.

The tour was to consist of three test matches, five one-day games and a 20-20 international.

Mumbai attacks put strain on diplomatic relations

India blames Islamic radical gunmen from Pakistan for the 60-hour siege of Mumbai that left about 170 people dead. The terrorists attacked luxury hotels, a train terminal, hospitals, a cafe and a Jewish outreach center. Government leaders in Islamabad say they have seen no proof that any of the ten men who attacked India's commercial capital were from Pakistan.

Cricket is a national obsession in India and Pakistan, stemming from the colonial era when the subcontinent was under British rule.

Pakistan accuses India of airspace violation

The announcement of the cancellation of the tour came just hours after it was reported that Islamabad registered a formal complaint with New Delhi, alleging violation of its air space by Indian fighter jets, last week. Indian air force officials have denied there were any such incursions.

Indian media have spoken of a heightened state of alert by forces on both sides of the border. Indian government and military leaders deny they are planning any strikes into Pakistani territory in retaliation for the Mumbai attack.

Both countries have nuclear weapons and have gone to war three times since gaining independence from Britain in 1947.

India is insisting those responsible for planning the Mumbai operation, which it blames on the outlawed group Laskhar-e-Taiba, be brought to justice and that Pakistan dismantle the terrorist infrastructure on its soil.

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