Renowned Pakistani cricketer Wasim Akram Tuesday said he was anxiously hoping for a “yes” result as fans wait to hear if a planned series between arch-rivals Pakistan and India will go ahead.
A recent thaw in Indo-Pak relations, with the prime ministers of both countries holding a short meeting in Paris last week, followed by talks between their security advisers in Bangkok, has raised hopes of a revival of cricket ties stalled since 2008.
Pakistan’s cricket chief said on Monday the series’ fate will be decided during a visit to Islamabad by India’s Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj this week.
“Of course, I am waiting for India’s “yes” on the series and I am as keen as millions of fans across both the borders,” Wasim told reporters in Karachi.
The series, agreed between the two boards in a memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed last year, ran into trouble amid strained relations over cross-border shelling in disputed Kashmir.
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) hopes the visit by Swaraj, who arrived in Islamabad on Tuesday, will clear the way for the series — three one-day and two Twenty20 internationals — to be played on neutral ground, in Sri Lanka, later this month.
Swaraj is visiting the capital to attend the Heart of Asia regional conference, the latest sign of improved relations between the nuclear-armed neighbours.
“The decision is pending with the Indian government and I feel the series should happen because it can help strengthen friendship between the two countries,” said Wasim.
As per the MoU, Pakistan and India are due to play six series between 2015-2023, all pending government clearance from both sides.
Wasim, who led the Pakistan team to India in 1999 despite threats from extremists groups from both countries, said cricket should be separated from politics.
“I think that politics and cricket should not be mixed and if both countries do that there will be no way cricket is stopped,” he said.
India suspended cricketing ties with its neighbour in the wake of 2008 terrorist attacks on Mumbai, which claimed 166 lives, and was blamed by Delhi on Pakistani militants.