India-Pakistan cricketing ties can only be improved at government level: Najam Sethi

Najam Sethi has said that the limited participation of Pakistani players in the IPL is a political decision © AFP

Karachi: Jul 9, 2013

Pakistan Cricket Board‘s (PCB) interim chairman Najam Sethi on Tuesday said that until relations are improved with India at the government level, it would be difficult to restore normal cricket ties between the two countries.

“The fact is that since the Mumbai terror attacks the Indian establishment took a policy decision to punish and isolate Pakistan and cricket obviously was among the affected areas. It is a decision that is part of their foreign policy,” Sethi said.

“They say technically our players can play in the Indian Premier League (IPL) but practically it is not happening. Not allowing our players in the IPL is a political decision it has nothing to do with cricket,” he said.

Sethi, a senior journalist and political analyst, noted that even if the BCCI wanted it could not go against the decision of the establishment or government.

“I have already told Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif that the only way our players will be able to go and play in the IPL and cricket relations can be restored properly with India is when relations are normalised at the government to government level,” he told Geo News.

“I am convinced when the prime minister is able to convince the Indian government and establishment that we are serious about having good ties and there wouldn’t be a new Mumbai incident is when we can move forward.”

Sethi said there was no doubt that India was a superpower in world cricket and its decision to not support Pakistan cricket is a big issue.

“India today is in a position where they don’t have to speak for themselves, other boards speak up for them. They are a strong board and obviously unless we have normal cricket relations with them it is not helping us,” he said.

The PCB has confirmed that it lost nearly USD 80 million from its total international broadcasting deal for the last four years which ended in June because there were no bilateral series with India in this period.

Pakistani players only took part in the first edition of the IPL but after the Mumbai terror attacks in November 2008 the BCCI has not allowed Pakistani players in the IPL.

Last December the BCCI also partially restored bilateral ties with Pakistan, which sent its team to India for a short series which, however, did not yield any financial benefits for the PCB.

Sethi also told the prime minister that PCB would require his help in sending players and team to India.

“I told the prime minister no matter only his diplomatic skills will help us. The prime minister also said he wanted to see cricket and sporting relations with India normalised.”