India-Pak thaw faces early check: visas for T20 World Cup

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AMONG THE first checks of whether or not the most recent thaw alongside the Line of Control (LoC) will result in wider easing of tensions between India and Pakistan will likely be in one other area the place the 2 stay bitter rivals: cricket.

An official supply in Pakistan instructed The Indian Express that the nation’s cricket board needs a “guarantee” from the BCCI that the Government will grant visas to Pakistani followers to observe the T20 World Cup to be performed in India later this 12 months.

Official sources in India mentioned that if there are not any “incidents” that will upset or deliver the ceasefire settlement on the LoC to an finish, there are plans to open up cricket and different sporting ties between the 2 international locations.

Meanwhile, Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Ehsan Mani has already written to the International Cricket Council (ICC) asking it to make sure that aside from the workforce and the squad, visas are granted to all “stakeholders” and others occupied with watching the matches.

The T20 World Cup is to be held in October-November, however the PCB needs an early “Indian guarantee” that Pakistani audiences, in addition to journalists and board officers, will likely be granted visas. “If visas are not guaranteed, then PCB will ask ICC to shift the venue from India,” the supply mentioned. During media interactions in Pakistan, Mani has mentioned that if he doesn’t get a “written assurance”, he would ask the ICC to shift the venue to the UAE.

On Sunday, Mani instructed The Indian Express that “it is the responsibility of ICC” to make sure that visas are granted to all stakeholders as per the Members Participation Agreement. While he’s learnt to have raised this with the ICC repeatedly during the last three months, the February 25 LoC settlement has given rise to optimism that the visas may very well be granted.

A BCCI official, who didn’t want to be named, mentioned the choice can be made by the Government holding in thoughts all elements, together with Covid. “The Government has to take a call on allowing fans to the stadium. The BCCI has no jurisdiction when it comes to issuing visas. If the Government allows, we have no problem. At the same time, these are not normal times. No country can give an assurance that they will keep their obligations under the Members Participation Agreement during a pandemic,” the official mentioned.

The final time the Pakistan workforce performed on Indian soil was within the T20 championship in March 2016, two months after the Pathankot assault. On that event, the Home Ministry gave multi-city visas to Pakistani followers who had tickets for the matches.

Before that, India granted visas to Pakistani followers for the 2011 World Cup semi-final at Mohali. The then Pakistani Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani additionally got here to Mohali and watched the match with then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

The final time the 2 international locations performed a bilateral home sequence was in 2007-2008 in India. And the 2019 World Cup in England was when the 2 groups final met at a impartial venue.

(With Shamik Chakrabarty)

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