India's sport minister has come out strongly against allowing the
country's cricket team to tour Pakistan next month. The sport is an
obsession in both countries. And the probable cancellation of the tour
would be the latest indication of how quickly and sharply relations
have soured between the two neighbors since the Mumbai terror attack.
sports minister is dashing hopes that the national cricket team will be
able to tour neighboring Pakistan early in the new year. India is
scheduled to visit Pakistan for a 45-day tour beginning January 6. But
sports minister M.S. Gill tells the Press Trust of India it is not the
right time to play cricket when people from Pakistan were indulging in
mass murder in India.
The comment came as the chairman of
Pakistan's Cricket Board, Ejaz Butt, was in Chennai to meet with Indian
cricket officials to try to salvage the series.
Rajiv Shukla, vice president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and also a member of the upper house of parliament, says the BCCI
will abide by whatever the government suggests regarding the pending
The president of the Indian Olympic
Association, Suresh Kalmadi, argues that sporting ties between India
and Pakistan maintain peace.
"That string should never be
broken," he said. "And we should continue our dialogue through sports.
But if it's a question of security, there's no question of our team
The former captain of the Indian national cricket
team, Sunil Gavaskar, speaking to the CNN-IBN network, casts strong
doubt that the present atmosphere will allow India's cricketers to
"I feel that at this particular point of time it looks impossible for India to go ahead with that tour," he said.
International Cricket Commission says, if Pakistan agrees, a neutral
venue could be selected for the series of matches against India. Last
month's siege of Mumbai, blamed on Islamic terrorists from Pakistan,
left about 170 people dead.
India and Pakistan have met each
other on the cricket pitch only about 50 times. The vast majority of
those encounters have ended in a draw, demonstrating the cautious
approach taken by both teams in the athletic competitions draped with
political overtones. The two countries have gone to war against each
other several times since independence came for both in the late