India and Pakistan last played against each other in the Asia Cup last year. @ AFP

Former India opener Gautam Gambhir wants India to completely boycott arch-rivals Pakistan from all major ICC tournaments. The dastardly terror attacks in Pulwama last month that cost the lives of over 40 CRPF personnel led to an outrage in the country with many, including former India cricketers, demanding a complete ban for Pakistan.

The Delhi southpaw said the country should back the team if they decide to forfeit the June 16 ICC World Cup 2019 group game against Pakistan in Manchester which would deny them a spot in the semi-finals.

“This (playing Pakistan in World Cup) is what BCCI needs to decide and I have always maintained there can’t be conditional bans,” Gambhir was quoted as saying in CricketNext on Monday. (ALSO READ: DDCA cancels plans to felicitate Kohli, Sehwag, Gambhir in wake of Pulwama attack)

“Either you don’t play them anywhere or open doors for them. What happened in Pulwama is absolutely not acceptable. I am sure it’s going to be difficult to boycott Pakistan in World Cup, but they are not playing them in bilaterals. The best they can do is to stop playing in Asia Cup as well, that’s what I believe.”

India and Pakistan last played against each other in the Asia Cup last year. Both sides were engaged in a bilateral series in 2012-13 when Pakistan travelled to India for a three-match ODI and a two-match T20I series.

Gambhir believes that if the BCCI decides to boycott the game, they should receive complete support for such a move.

“England had decided not to travel to Zimbabwe in 2003 World Cup and gave those two points away,” he said.

“So, if BCCI decides that India should not play Pakistan, they should be mentally ready and the country should be too. It can’t be conditional ban, there could be repercussions as well. No media should blame India for not qualifying to the semi-finals. The entire media and country should back the team as well.” (ALSO READ: Pakistan demands ICC action against India for wearing army caps at Ranchi)

Other than facing Pakistan in the group game, if both the teams perform well, there is a possibility that they run into each other in the semi-final or final.

“Entire country needs to be on the same page before taking such a big decision, media and common man should not blame the team. Till that happens, it’s going to be a difficult decision for the BCCI,” Gambhir said.

Quizzed what he would have done if he was still an active player, Gambhir said: “There is nothing wrong in forfeiting the game and losing two points. The lives of 40-41 (44) soldiers who lost their lives are far more important. My point is if India decides to forfeit then the entire country should back the team even if India have to play Pakistan in the World Cup final, even if you have to let go of that final they should be ready for it. (ALSO READ: Not just cricket, cut off all sporting ties with Pakistan: Sourav Ganguly)

“All of us need to decide if sports is more important or lives are more important,” the former Delhi skipper said.

“If India have to face backlash of international sporting federations, I am all for it. But there should not be conditional bans, I have maintained this. Country is far more important than Bollywood, sports, art or culture if we have to face that backlash, they should be absolutely ready to do that.”