Pakistan news December 11, 2015

'Stopping cricket not the answer' - Imran


Imran Khan - "People to people contact is necessary to build ties. Sachin [Tendulkar] is loved in Pakistan as a Wasim [Akram] is loved in India" © AFP

With India-Pakistan cricketing ties currently in limbo, former Pakistan captain Imran Khan has asserted that stopping cricket is not the answer to combating terrorism. Imran, who is currently in India attending Agenda AajTak 2015, a news conclave, said he had raised the issue with Indian prime minister Narendra Modi, and was hoping for a positive response.

"Stopping cricket is not an answer to terrorism. You don't boycott a society on the basis of few sick men," Imran said. "I supported the ban on South Africa once, but that was due to their stance on apartheid and that was a human rights violation. But other than that I believe sport should carry on.

"It is a matter of a lifelong relationship. People to people contact is necessary to build ties. Sachin [Tendulkar] is loved in Pakistan as a Wasim [Akram] is loved in India."

On his meeting with Modi, Imran said: "I told Modi that cricket should happen. Modiji smiled at that question and I couldn't decipher whether it was a 'yes' or 'no'. But I am a positive person and would take that positively.

"We are the first generation of partition children, so we had heard a lot of hate stories. And people like us were on each side of the country. But when I toured India as a cricketer, I realised that we are the same people, who listen to the same songs and have the same tastes. There is consensus in Pakistan against terror. So we should look to bridge gaps not create distances."

Former India captain Kapil Dev, who was sharing the stage with Imran, was however more guarded in his stance on India-Pakistan ties.

"Players have no problem in playing against each other, but you can't go against government policy," he said. "Boards certainly want to play, but Imran, Kapil and Sachin's views do not matter. It is the government's decision which finally counts."