farokh engineer
Farokh Engineer (AFP Photo)

Farokh Engineer has called for the bilateral cricketing ties between India and Pakistan to be restored saying the rise of Imran Khan to the post of Prime Minister could pave the way for the two neighbours to start a dialogue.

The bilateral cricket ties between the two nations have been suspended since the Mumbai attacks of 2008. The teams only face each other in major international tournaments. Moreover, since the terrorist attacks on Sri Lanka cricket team in 2009, international teams have refused to tour Pakistan on security grounds.

This has forced Pakistan to play their ‘home’ matches in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

“Imran Khan, he is the prime minister now. Hopefully India and Pakistan will start a dialogue,” Engineer said at the inaugural Ranji Memorial Public Conversation in London earlier this week. “They should be playing Test cricket against each other because it will do Pakistan cricket, their economy, a world of good. But you hear about border skirmishes and this and that. They’ve got to have dialogue.”

Imran Khan, regarded as one of the greatest allrounders who led Pakistan to World Cup triumph in 1992, became the PM earlier this year. Engineer, a wicketkeeper-batsman who played 46 Tests and five ODIs for India between 1961 and 1975, said the political leaders of the two nations hold the key for the two famous rivals to start playing cricket on a regular basis.

“Unfortunately, the Indian government controls the BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India) or they (the BCCI) have been using that as an excuse. As a cricketer, I would love India to play Pakistan or vice versa. But it is a question of convincing the political leaders,” he said.

He continued, “Basically we are the same people. Both countries have extremely talented cricketers and I, for one, would love to see that happen but unfortunately the brakes are on,”