Cricket diplomacy: Modi seeks to improve ties through Pak-India series

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India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi reiterated his resolve to break ice with the neighbouring country through “cricket diplomacy” despite the apprehensions raised by some Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) lawmakers about a proposed India-Pakistan cricket series, Indian Express reported on Tuesday.

“We have taken the decision to start a cricket series between both countries to improve our relations,” said Modi during a BJP parliamentary party meeting on Tuesday, a BJP lawmaker who was present told IANS on the condition of anonymity.

Soon after a resolution was adopted appreciating initiatives taken by the Modi government during its first year in office, Modi said some of the members have expressed concern against the series and that is why he was “clearing the air”, said the source. Party lawmaker R.K. Singh, a former union home secretary, had raised apprehension over the issue in the Lok Sabha on Monday. Cricketer-turned-BJP MP Kirti Azad had also opposed the move.

According to sources, only Modi spoke at the meeting. None of the MPs said anything this time, especially after Bharat Singh, a party MP from Uttar Pradesh, had criticised the government at the last parliamentary party meeting.

Last year cricket fans in the subcontinent were rejoiced when former International Cricket Council (ICC) chairman N Srinivasan’s announce that India will renew bilateral series with Pakistan in 2015.

“There has been a proposal to resume bilateral cricket ties between India and Pakistan. As I understand as ICC chairman, there has been an agreement that the two teams will play each other soon,” Srinivasan had said.

The teams are expected to take on each other in the United Arab Emirates in a full series comprising two Tests, five One Day Internationals and two T20 games. According to the Future Tours and Programmes (FTP) schedule drawn up by ICC, they will play four more full-length series over the next eight years.

The 2015 series will be a ‘home’ series for Pakistan, but owing to security issues, matches will have to be played in UAE.

Published in Dawn on May 12, 2015.

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