Karachi: Pakistan Cricket Board Chairman Shaharyar Khan today welcomed Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s gesture of calling up his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif to convey best wishes for the cricket team in the World Cup beginning tomorrow. “It is a very positive development as it shows that the Modi government realizes the power cricket has to promote better ties between the two countries,” Khan said.
Modi phoned Sharif to wish his cricket team luck in an ice-breaker conversation ahead of a World Cup match between the arch rivals on Sunday. The Indian PM said “cricket connects people in our region and promotes goodwill” in his calls to Sharif and the heads of the three other South Asian countries taking part in the World Cup — Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.
Khan, a career diplomat who remained foreign secretary and also Pakistan’s High Commissioner in India, said it was very important for the governments to agree on the importance of encouraging cricket ties between Pakistan and India.
“This gesture from Modi is a good sign and as far Pakistan government is concerned they have already backed us in promoting bilateral cricket ties with India,” Khan added. It was in Khan’s first tenure as Board Chairman in 2004 that the Indian team made a historic visit to Pakistan after a 14-year gap.
Khan said that Pakistan was looking forward to host India in the UAE later this year. “We know that the series will be held if the Indian government gives clearance to the Indian Board, so Modi’s gesture is well timed,” he said.
Further he said that he was confident that Pakistan had the ability to beat India in Sunday’s much-anticipated match. “We just want our team to give its best and play in true sportsmanship spirit. We have hopes from the team to do well in the World Cup,” he added.
“I expect our team to win the World Cup and I am also hopeful that Pakistan will beat India in their group match. Plus, we want the team to win the World Cup and then we will reward the team and not just only on beating India.”