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PCB wants bilateral cricket ties with India restored soon

Lahore: The PCB is hoping for a major breakthrough in restoration of bilateral cricket ties with India after Pakistan`s foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar broached the topic of sports diplomacy during her recent visit to the neighbouring country.

Well-informed sources told PTI that the Pakistan Cricket Board(PCB) had requested the foreign ministry to ensure that restoration of bilateral cricket ties between the two countries was on the agenda of the talks between Khar and her Indian counterpart S M Krishna.

"From what we have been told cricket was discussed and both governments agreed that restoring bilateral cricket ties would also help in speeding up the peace process between Pakistan and India," a source said.

"In view of this latest development, the PCB will now once again be taking up the matter with the Indian cricket board although it is aware that it would be practically impossible to have any Indo-Pak matches this year due to the packed international schedule of both teams," the source added.

He said the PCB was hoping that it could convince the Indian board to share a few matches of the ICC`s Future Tours Program (FTP) series scheduled in India in March-April, 2012.

"It would be a major breakthrough if India agrees to come and play a few games of that series in Pakistan or even at a neutral venue" the source said.

Pakistan is due to tour India next year but is still waiting for some compensation for the tour that India had cancelled to Pakistan in early 2009 after the Mumbai attacks.

The source said the PCB for the moment was only interested in restoration of bilateral cricket ties and not interested in raising the issue of the Champions League with the Indians.

"Participation of a Pakistani team in the Champions League this year is not the main priority of the board.

Bilateral ties in context of next year`s tour is what matters the most to the board now," the source said.

He said that PCB Chairman, Ijaz Butt had a pleasant meeting with Indian board officials during his visit to Lord`s earlier this month for the 2000th Test match celebrations between India and England.

"There were no formal discussions but Butt welcomed the interaction with the Indian board officials," he said.

Khar during her visit to India told Krishna that the game had the potential to bring closer the two countries at a time when people were keen on peace.

Khar made the point that the time was particularly ripe for resuming Test series between the two nations.

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