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Indo-Pak ties should not be swayed by social media: BCCI secretary

Indo-Pak ties should not be swayed by social media: BCCI secretary

Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) secretary, Anurag Thakur, has called for resumption of cricketing ties between India and Pakistan, according to a report published on the Indian Express website

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader, who was speaking at an event organised by the Indian Express on Thursday, urged for direct engagement with Pakistan starting with a bilateral series.

He said that diplomatic relations and decisions on sporting ties with Pakistan should not be swayed by social media. In India, the hashtag #nocricketwithpakistan was trending on Twitter last week as Indian social media users took offence to the BCCI's approval of a bilateral series on the anniversary of 2008 Mumbai terror attacks.

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Thakur also said that it was important to sit across the table and talk to Pakistan, adding that cricket could pave the way for other issues to be discussed, such as terrorism and trade.

He, however, admitted that pressure from the social media in recent times had contributed in creating an atmosphere not conducive for talks with Pakistan.

“I think when it comes to Pakistan, it’s not that easy to take calls. And five years back, there was no role of social media. Today you see a lot of reaction from social media, but you still can’t say it’s the sense of the entire country. At times you can’t go only by social media; you have to look at the interests of the nation,”

“I think you have to take a call (on) whether there should not be any talks. Let other countries go to UN and let other boards go to ICC for decisions, but you have to decide if you want to engage with them. So I think you have to decide diplomatically what call to take. If you engage (with Pakistan), then you can raise the issue of terrorism as well as cricket as well as trade. But if you don’t engage, you give that opportunity to someone else,” Thakur was quoted in the report.

“I think diplomatic relations are very important for any country and deciding whether you want to remain at loggerheads or actually sit across the table and discuss things. We have been discussing the issues of cricket, trade, terrorism, and Kashmir with Pakistan.”

He also pointed out the contradictions between India's stand of not playing cricket with Pakistan and the reality of frequently playing each other in other multinational events organised by the International Cricket Council (ICC) like the World Cup, Asia Cup and World T20.

Pakistan-India series: Waiting for a ‘mauka’ to play again

Confusion still persists over the highly anticipated Indo-Pak bilateral series scheduled to be played in December. Despite the BCCI and PCB agreeing, for their different reasons, there is still a chance of a ‘no show’ as confirmation is still awaited from the Indian government.

Pakistan and India's cricket boards had faced a deadlock for months on a venue for the series. India had refused to play in the United Arab Emirates and Pakistan rejected the Indian board's proposal to play its 'home' series in India.

Also read: Pakistan should not play its ‘home’ series in India: Sethi

Since the 2009 attack on the Sri Lankans in Lahore, Pakistan have staged 'home' matches in the United Arab Emirates.

India did not give any official reason for not playing the series in UAE.

Later, Sri Lanka was finalised as a host for the series and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif gave his approval to the PCB last week.

The PCB had said details of the short series would be announced “once the BCCI gives a go-ahead for it.“

Earlier, a PCB source told Dawn.com on that the confusion surrounding the imminent Pak-India series had been amplified due to difference of opinion within the Indian government.

Read: Despite reports of imminent Pak-India series, 'no decision yet'

“It appears that the Indian government is divided over this issue. The relevant ministry has conveyed to the BCCI to go ahead. But the opposing group is saying there is no decision,” he said while adding that the series was being dictated by politics.

The series is one of six agreed between the PCB and BCCI under a Memorandum of Understanding signed last year when PM Manmohan Singh-led government gave its go-ahead for the series.

Later the BCCI said it would have to get permission from their new Narendra Modi-led government for the said series.

India called off most sporting fixtures between the rivals after the 2008 Mumbai attacks, which it says were planned by militants in Pakistan.

The two countries played a bilateral series when Misbah-ul-Haq and company toured India for a short limited-overs series (comprising three ODIs and two Twenty20s) in Dec-Jan 2012-13. Pakistan won the ODI series 2-1 while the T20 rubber ended in 1-1 stalemate.

Pakistan last played a full series in India in 2007 while India last toured Pakistan in 2006.

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