Despite brewing apprehension among MPs of India’s ruling party, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is determined to improve relations with Pakistan via ‘cricket diplomacy’.
A Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP revealed to India Today newspaper that during a BJP parliamentary party meeting on Tuesday, Modi said, “We have taken the decision to start a cricket series between both countries to improve our relations.”
Soon after, a resolution was adopted appreciating initiatives taken by the Modi administration during its first year in office. The resolution appreciated the prime minister’s efforts for enhancing India’s image among the international community, said the MP who added that Modi had admitted that since some of the members have expressed concern over the cricket series with Pakistan he was ‘clearing the air’.
Party lawmaker RK Singh, a former union home secretary, had raised apprehension over the issue in the Lok Sabha, lower house of Indian parliament, on Monday. Cricketer-turned-BJP MP Kirti Azad had also opposed the move.
On Sunday, Pakistan Cricket Board Chairman Shaharyar Khan said Pakistan are ready to host a series with India in the UAE in December. The series, which will involve three Tests, five ODIs and two T20s, is part of an MOU signed between the PCB and Board of Control for Cricket in India in 2014, Shaharyar told reporters after meeting BCCI President Jagmohan Dalmiya, in Kolkata.
A day later, Dalmiya told Times of India (TOI) newspaper, “We are open to playing a series against Pakistan. But there are a few things which needed to be sorted out.” He didn’t give details. However, TOI reported that the PCB and the BCCI have differences over broadcast rights issues, in particular PCB’s series-by-series association with Ten Sports.
Quoting sources, TOI further reported that the BCCI is hopeful government approval for the series will be given in time if the Ten Sports issue is sorted out.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 13th, 2015.