LAHORE: Pakistan’s opposition party leader Nawaz Sharif on Monday called for reviving cricketing ties between Pakistan and India to help improve relations between the two countries.
All bilateral sporting ties including the most sought-after cricket games were stalled after the November 2008 Mumbai attacks, which killed 166 people including some foreigners, blamed on militants based in Pakistan.
“The Indian cricket team should come to Pakistan and the Pakistan team should tour India because cricket can bring the two countries closer,” he told reporters.
Sharif served as Pakistan’s Prime Minister twice in the 1990s and played one first class cricket match as batsman in 1974.
Under Sharif’s rule, Pakistan toured India in 1999.
“I am ready to do my part in reviving the ties. In fact I want to be part of the Pakistan team when India come to play us,” Sharif said jokingly.
On Sunday, Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari, during his day long visit to India, requested that Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh resume cricketing ties between the two countries.
Zardari reportedly said he was looking forward to the Indian cricket team travelling to Pakistan to play cricket on Pakistani soil.
Singh told Zardari that he would take up the matter with the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).
The BCCI blames their team’s hectic schedule as the main obstacle to finding the time for the tour.
India and Pakistan are slated to play against each other in the Future Tours Programme of the International Cricket Council between 2012-2018, subject to clearance from both governments.
Pakistan last toured India in 2007 while India featured in the Asia Cup held across the border in 2008