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January 21, 2010
The Indian government has distanced itself from the results of the IPL auction, where none of the 11 Pakistan players up for sale attracted any bid. Insisting that the IPL was an independent commercial enterprise, India's sports minister MS Gill told reporters: "IPL is not only a cricket league but it is also a commercial enterprise and the government of India and the sports ministry has nothing to do with them."
Gill's statement was a reaction to claims of "discriminatory treatment" made by his counterpart Aijaz Hussain Jakhrani, the Pakistan sports minister. "I have phoned the sports minister of India and recorded a protest over the unjust and discriminatory treatment meted out to the Pakistani cricketers," Jakhrani told AFP. "It is indeed a matter of disrespect of Pakistani heroes, who are the champions of Twenty20 World Cup.
"Pakistani ministries of sports, interior and foreign affairs had given political and security clearance to Pakistani players in time to play."
SM Krishna, India's foreign minister, echoed Gill's comment. "Government has nothing to do with IPL, on selection of players and various exercises that are connected with it. So, Pakistan will have to draw a line between where Government of India is connected and where Government of India is an actor," he said.
"Seventeen Pakistani cricketers were issued requisite Indian visas at very short notice in December 2009 and January 2010 to participate in IPL 2010," the foreign ministry said in a statement. "Two visas were issued in Islamabad, three in Wellington and 12 in Sydney, where the concerned Pakistani cricketers had applied while touring New Zealand and Australia, respectively. Based on a request from the Pakistan Cricket Board to High Commission of India in Islamabad, the MEA facilitated necessary clearances from other ministries. The participation or absence of Pakistani cricketers in a commercial event of the nature of IPL is, thus, a matter not within the purview of the government.
Eleven Pakistan players - several of whom have expressed outrage at not being picked - were shortlisted for the IPL auction in Mumbai. Pakistan's players had received NOCs from the PCB to participate in the tournament after the Pakistan government's various ministries had cleared them to tour India. However, the uncertainty over the strained relations between India and Pakistan in the aftermath of the Mumbai terror attacks in November 2008 appears to have prompted franchises to wield restraint at the auction.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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