NEW DELHI: Indian Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde rebuffed on Thursday the Shiv Sena’s threat to disrupt the upcoming cricket series with Pakistan and said he would receive his Pakistani counterpart soon to inaugurate a new visa regime between the two countries Mr Shinde told Press Trust of India in Mumbai that sports and politics should not be mixed, as the cricket series would pave the way for improving ties between India and Pakistan.
“When cricketers from other countries come to India, not only from Pakistan, it is our duty to protect them. We will discuss and provide best possible security. We are going to be very alert,” he said when asked about Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray’s threat.
Mr Shinde said there would be no compromise on the security of Pakistani cricketers and spectators.
The home minister said the limited over cricket series should not be mixed with the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, which India blames on Pakistan-based terror outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba.
The Shiv Sena chief had on Monday called upon “staunch Hindus and patriotic people of India” to disrupt cricket matches between India and Pakistan due to be played in the country next month.
Mr Thackeray also lashed out at Mr Shinde for his statement “to forget the past” and play cricket with Pakistan.
The series would comprise three ODIs and two Twenty20 Internationals between December 2012 and January 2013. The ODI matches will be played in Chennai, Kolkata and New Delhi and the Twenty20 games in Bangalore and Ahmedabad.
The two countries have not played a bilateral series since Pakistan’s tour of India in 2007. Cricket ties between the two countries were snapped following the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his then Pakistani counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani had watched the high-profile World Cup semi-final in Mohali last year.
Asked about Interior Minister Rehman Malik’s proposed visit to India for operationalisation of the new India-Pakistan visa pact, Mr Shinde said when he met Mr Malik in Rome on the sidelines of the Interpol General Assembly meeting, the Pakistani minister conveyed that he might come on Nov 22-23.
“We are yet to finalise the dates. We will give our response. They will also give their response. Then the dates will be finalised,” he said.