‘This is significant for both countries’

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“We need to engage with each other through diplomatic and unofficial, people to people exchanges.” -Photo by AFP

Indian cricket’s vice-president Rajiv Shukla, who is also a government minister, has termed the upcoming series between Pakistan and India a significant step that will help improve relations between the two countries.

Shukla also revealed that all security and visa arrangements had been finalised.

“It's very significant for both countries. We need to engage with each other through diplomatic and unofficial, people to people exchanges. We experienced this in the 2004-2005 [tour] and I expect it will happen again once the series begins. There will be a change in the political atmosphere,” Shukla told The Daily Telegraph.

“I conveyed this to the prime minister [Dr Manmohan Singh] and explained that it was important to bring close the people of both countries, and he agreed. All security and visa arrangements have been finalised,” he said.

The tour will take place during a Christmas break in England's winter tour to India.

A report by the Press Trust of India said the venues for the ODI games would most likely be Chennai, Kolkata and New Delhi while the Twenty20 matches would take place in Bangalore and Ahmedabad.

The rivals have not played a series since Pakistan’s tour of India in 2007, after cricket ties were snapped following the 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai.

Cricket ties have been the subject of discussions between the governments of both countries. They have been holding regular meetings in a bid to improve relations and eventually thrash out a peace agreement.

A spokesman for the PCB told Dawn, when asked to divulge the terms and conditions settled between the two cricket boards, “We are still waiting for the formal information from the BCCI as we just heard the news through the media.”

“The question of terms and conditions will only be raised after receiving the formal invitation for the tour,” he added.

“The decision of the Indian government is, however, a good gesture towards reviving cricketing ties between both the countries.”

The tour now needs only a formal announcement by the two boards to be official.

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