India unhappy with Sri Lanka’s cricket tour to Pakistan: Reports

December 28th, 2008 - 8:33 pm ICT by IANS  

Colombo, Dec 28 (IANS) India is not happy with Sri Lanka’s cricket tour to Pakistan, media reports said here Sunday.The tour was hastily arranged by Pakistan after India refused to go ahead with the scheduled visit following last month’s terror attacks in Mumbai. The then interim committee of the Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) headed by Arjuna Ranatunga, which was later dismissed by the government, accepted the invitation to fill in for India.

But now after the government cleared the tour, Indian authorities have expressed their displeasure over the next month’s series.

Independent Sunday Times quoting SLC sources said that the decision by the Ranatunga administration to undertake the tour “had irked the Indian authorities” and the matter had been discussed “at the highest levels in Colombo”.

“These sources said that SLC also received clear signals that Indian authorities were unhappy with the move to tour Pakistan when they were having political problems with that country. They said they treated the Sri Lankan move as a snub on the Indians mainly as a fallout from the Indian Premier League (IPL) issue,” the daily said.

The report said that the Sri Lankan sports authorities were forced to go to the foreign ministry to get clearance for the national team’s tour to Pakistan next month “following a nose-dive in Indo-Pak relations in recent weeks”.

With sports minister Gamini Lokuge briefing President Mahinda Rajapaksa “saying that the Pakistan tour had become a diplomatic issue”. Rajapaksa then referred the matter to foreign minister Rohitha Bogollagama.

Bogollagama, however, has said that there was no “diplomatic pressure applied on Sri Lanka either by India or Pakistan” with regard to the cricket tour.

He has told the newspaper that he cleared the tour considering it as a “sporting issue”, and that Sri Lanka promoted “people-to-people visits” among South Asian member states.

“If indeed there were security concerns, the matter has to be determined by the International Cricket Council (ICC),” the foreign minister was been quoted as saying.

Claiming that both India and Pakistan “are important factors in Sri Lanka’s military and diplomatic efforts to defeat the LTTE”, the Sunday Times said that Ranatunga has sought a meeting with Rajapaksa to present his case.

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