Gilani says ‘yes’ to Manmohan’s cricket diplomacy (Second Lead)March 27th, 2011 - 7:21 pm ICT by IANS
Islamabad, March 27 (IANS) Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani will travel to Mohali to watch the India-Pakistan World Cup semi-final March 30, it was announced Sunday, following an invitation from Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh who unleashed cricket diplomacy to ease persistent tensions between the two countries.
But President Asif Ali Zardari, who too was invited by Manmohan Singh to watch what is seen as the most explosive match of the World Cup, would not be going to India, presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar said.
The decision on Gilani’s travel was taken at a meeting with Zardari that lasted for about two hours here late Saturday, Dawn News reported Sunday.
“It was decided … that Gilani will visit India to witness the
semi-final cricket match,” Babar said in a statement.
Gilani will meet Manmohan Singh at the Mohali stadium at the 50-over a side match. A formal meeting will follow to discuss bilateral matters, Geo News reported citing official sources.
The sources said the two leaders will discuss ways to improve bilateral relations, which have been clouded by allegations and counter-allegations related to terrorism.
Neither government has given any agenda for the Gilani-Manmohan meet.
Officials of the Pakistan Cricket Board and the sports ministry will also attend the match.
It was on Friday, a day after India booted out Australia from the World Cup, that Manmohan Singh shot off letters to Zardari and Gilani, asking them to come to Mohali. He also invited Gilani’s wife.
“It gives me great pleasure to invite you to visit Mohali and join me and millions of fans from our two countries,” he wrote in identical letters to both Pakistani leaders.
“I propose to be at Mohali… There is huge excitement over the match, and we are all looking forward to a great game of cricket, that will be a victory for sport,” the letter said.
Thousands of Pakistani cricket fans are expected to watch the match. India plans to issue 5,000 visas.
Manmohan Singh’s invitation is a repeat of similar cricket diplomacy on two earlier occasions.
In 1987, Gen. Zia ul-Haq visited Jaipur at Rajiv Gandhi’s invitation. Almost two decades later, in 2005, then president Pervez Musharraf flew to New Delhi on Manmohan Singh’s invitation.
Both visits helped ease tensions in India-Pakistan relations.
Now, the relations are strained by New Delhi’s demand that Islamabad punish the masterminds of the Mumbai terror attack of 2008 and the dispute over Jammu and Kashmir, where India accuses Pakistan of backing separatist guerrillas.
Meanwhile, a petition has been filed in a Karachi court seeking to shift the semifinal out of India to a third country over fears for the safety of the Pakistani team if it defeats India.
Advocate Abid Hassan told the Sindh High Court in Karachi that Shiv Sena leader Bal Thackeray had threatened to attack the Pakistani players if they win, Geo News reported.
A Shiv Sena spokesman in Mumbai denied that Thackeray had issued such a threat.
- Gilani accepts Manmohan's invite for World Cup semifinal (Lead) - Mar 27, 2011
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- Manmohan invites Zardari, Gilani for cricket -- and peace (Intro Roundup) - Mar 25, 2011
- Manmohan, Zardari, Gilani to watch cricket -- for peace (Roundup) - Mar 25, 2011
- Gilani accepts Dr Singh's invitation to watch Indo-Pak WC match in Mohali - Mar 27, 2011
- Manmohan invites Zardari, Gilani for cricket -- and peace (Night Intro) - Mar 26, 2011
- Mohali meeting a new opening to settle disputes: Islamabad - Apr 01, 2011
- Previous India-Pakistan encounters in cricket-diplomacy - Mar 26, 2011
- India-Pakistan match: Gilani accepts Manmohan's invite - Mar 27, 2011
- Manmohan invites Zardari, Gilani for India-Pakistan match (Lead) - Mar 25, 2011
- Zardari, Gilani to visit India -- for cricket - Mar 25, 2011
- India-Pakistan talks between overs could help ease tensions: Daily - Mar 27, 2011
- Change India-Pakistan match venue: Petition in Karachi court - Mar 27, 2011
- Zardari likely to come on 'personal' visit to India (Lead) - Apr 01, 2012
- Manmohan Singh to watch Mohali match, invites Pak President, PM to join - Mar 25, 2011
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