Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Shaharyar Khan has expressed hope that next week’s diplomatic talks between his country and India will help the revival of cricket between the two rivals after a seven-year hiatus. A delegation from Islamabad led by Sartaj Aziz, adviser to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on foreign affairs and national security, will visit New Delhi to meet Indian officials on August 23 and 24. Pakistan is awaiting a green light from New Delhi for a proposed series in the United Arab Emirates starting in December 2015 – the first between the South Asian nuclear rivals since 2007. Doubts were raised over the series in the wake of terrorist attacks in the Indian city of Gurdaspur last month – which India blamed on Pakistan – as well as continued ceasefire violations in disputed Kashmir.
But the PCB chief said Tuesday he hoped the talks would help. Mr Aziz is going and I had a meeting with him on Monday, Shaharyar told reporters here after chairing the PCB’s Board of Governors 37th meeting here. If his visit brings down the political temperature then I think the chances of Indo-Pak cricket series will increase. India halted bilateral sports with Pakistan in the wake of terrorist attacks on Mumbai in 2008, which New Delhi blamed on militants based across the border. But last year both countries’ cricket boards signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) under which they were due to play six series in 2015-2023, conditional to the Indian government’s clearance. Indian board wants conducive political atmosphere for cricket but our view is that cricket and politics must be kept apart, added Shaharyar, a former foreign secretary who was also manager of the Pakistan team which toured India in 1999. Cricket series between Pakistan and India were keenly followed both at home and abroad and regarded as on a par with – if not bigger than – the historic Ashes series between England and Australia. But cricket has often been affected by political tensions, with no series between India and Pakistan from 1961-1978 and then 1989-1999.
Decisions of 37th BoG meeting: The 37th PCB Board of Governors meeting was attended by Najam Sethi (chairman executive committee), Zafar Mehmood (WAPDA), Shakeel Ahmed Sheikh (chairman cricket committee), Gul Zada (Peshawar Region), Mansoor Masood Khan (UBL), Naeem Gillani (Rawalpindi Region), Amjad Latif (SNGPL), Ijaz Chaudhry (IPC secretary) Mr. Subhan Ahmad chief operating officer), Badar Manzoor Khan (chief financial officer). The meeting started with a minute’s silence in memory of the late Col (R) Shuja Khanzada, Punjab Home Minister. Shaharyar briefed the Board of Governors about developments at the ICC Annual Meeting. He informed the BoG about discussions held with heads of various cricket boards with regard to inviting more teams to play in Pakistan. The PCB chairman also laid out his vision to improve the organisational efficiency of PCB. In order to seek expert cricketing opinion where required, the Board of Governors authorised the chairman to appoint two eminent cricketers as advisors to the chairman. These advisors may also be invited to the BoG meetings for soliciting expert opinion on cricketing affairs, as and when required. Najam briefed about developments related to the Pakistan Super League.