ibnlive » India

Mar 25, 2011 at 11:19pm IST

Cricket and diplomacy go way back for Indo-Pak

New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday invited Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani to the India Pakistan face off in Mohali next week.

This is not the first time that cricket is being seen as a way to boost the ties between the two countries.

In April 2005, at an India-Pakistan one day international in Delhi, General Pervez Musharraf and Manmohan Singh used the occasion to launch a bus service between the India's Kashmir and Pakistan's Kashmir.

In February 1987, as Kapil Dev and Imran Khan faced off at the Sawai Man Singh Stadium in Jaipur, the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and General Zia-ul-Haq chatted on a range of issues including Islamabad's backing of Sikh terrorists.

Pakistan High Commissioner to India Shahid Malik said, "It bodes well for cricketing ties and it will pave the way for other things as well. Indo-Pak home secretary level talks will be followed by the cricketing encounter. It all augurs well for the bilateral relations."

But the question is whether we are reading too much into this. Cricket hasn't reduced deep seated animosities and prejudices on either side. India remains the officially sanctioned public enemy number one across the border and no cricket match can wipe out the memories of 26/11.

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