Pakistan’s cricket chief said on Tuesday (20) he was not optimistic about resuming ties with India after hardline Hindu activists sabotaged talks between the two sides.
Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Shaharyar Khan was due to meet Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) president Shashank Manohar on Monday but the meeting was cancelled after far-right activists stormed the Mumbai office in protest at the dialogue.
Khan said his hopes of talks being rescheduled on Tuesday in the Indian capital were dashed after he failed to hear from the BCCI bosses.
“I came here to engage with the BCCI (but) there has been absolutely no word as to how they intend to move forward from here,” Khan told reporters in New Delhi.
“It is very clear there are pressures here that are preventing the BCCI from taking a position vis-a-vis the series.
“I am not optimistic now after what has happened here,” he said, referring to the storming of BCCI premises by activists of Shiv Sena, a junior ally of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Earlier, Pakistan umpire Aleem Dar was withdrawn from the ongoing series between India and South Africa, the International Cricket Council (ICC) announced on Monday.
The ICC said it decided to remove Dar from the series after protesters stormed Indian cricket’s headquarters, demanding his removal.
“Under the present circumstances, it will be unreasonable to expect from Aleem that he will be able to perform his duties to the best of his abilities,” the ICC said in a statement.
“As such, he has been withdrawn and his replacement will be announced in due course.”
Dar, a member of the ICC’s elite panel of umpires, had been appointed to officiate in each of the five one-day internationals between India and South Africa.
He stood in the first three matches but will skip the last two, with the ICC confirming the decision was made as a direct result of the protests.
“The ICC has made the decision following Monday’s incident in Mumbai where a group of extremists stormed the Board of Control for Cricket in India offices, and threatened to prevent the umpire from standing in the fifth ODI on Sunday.”
India and Pakistan have not played a full series since 2007 after New Delhi halted all bilateral cricket ties with Pakistan following the 2008 attacks in Mumbai.
India had blamed militants based in Pakistan for the attacks which left 166 people dead.
Pakistan did tour India for two Twenty20 and three one-day internationals in December 2012 but even that tour failed to revive the full series.
Relations have been strained, with continued border ceasefire violations from both sides, leading to the cancellation of a meeting between their security advisers in August.
The arch-rivals, however, signed a Memorandum of Understanding under which they agreed to play six series between 2015-2023, all pending clearance from the two governments.
The first of that series comprising of two Tests, five one-day and two Twenty20s is scheduled for December and January in the United Arab Emirates.
Khan, also a former foreign secretary and high commissioner, said he could not “wait forever” to hear from BCCI bosses on the fate of the series in UAE.
BCCI secretary Anurag Thakur, who is the head of BJP’s youth wing and an influential MP, on Monday virtually ruled out playing Pakistan until political tensions eased significantly.
“I had made it clear earlier as well that the talks can continue between the Boards, but cricket will only happen when conditions will improve,” he said.
Khan, meanwhile, ruled out Pakistan’s withdrawal from the World Twenty20 series to be held in India in March and April next year.
“No, I don’t see that and hope things will improve by then,” Khan told reporters earlier in the day, responding to calls from former Pakistan players to pull out of the ICC (International Cricket Council) event.
“Our stance has always been that cricket and politics should be kept separate and we maintain that stance,” said Khan.