Imran Khan bats for Indo-Pak cricket series

Gurgaon, Nov. 7 (ANI): Cricketer-turned politician Imran Khan on Wednesday welcomed the resumption of bilateral cricketing ties between India and Pakistan, saying it will enhance people-to-people contact between the two sides.

"Remember there are always people who benefit from hatred. Hatred is one of the biggest vote catchers. But I think the time has moved on, people in India and Pakistan want peace in that atmosphere once you cricketing series. They will actually increase people-to-people contact," said Khan.

"It will be a good confidence building measure. It will be healthy competition and I think it will lead to a better relationship," he added.

Khan further said that it would also enhance the Indian Premier League (IPL).

"I think why not, it will enhance IPL," he added.

Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray had earlier asked his party activists 'not to permit' the forthcoming matches between India and Pakistan anywhere in the country.

The Shiv Sena chief has in his party mouthpiece 'Saamna' criticized Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde for his statement 'to forget the past' and play cricket with Pakistan.

"Mr. Shinde, why are you taking this immature step of playing cricket with Pakistan? How can you say that we should forget the past? How and why should we forget the past?" he asked, while referring to the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks and other attacks in different parts of the country.

Shinde had earlier on Friday welcomed Pakistani team's visit to India, saying sportsmanship should be maintained and that one must not ponder over what happened in the past.

Shinde said that any player from anywhere could come and play in India.

"Yesterday, I clarified that any player from anywhere, they can come to India and play here. We must have friendly relations. Once what happened in the past that should not be all the time we should repeat it. We must maintain the sportsmanship and a sport like cricket is certainly welcome," Shinde told mediapersons in Hyderabad.

"It should be free from politics. Whether it is sports or cultural affairs or whether it is singing or dancing, all these activities should be restricted to those activities only," he added.

Thackeray had earlier termed the BCCI's invitation to Pakistan's cricket team as a matter of 'national shame'.

"The Pakistan team will be playing matches at Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai and Bengaluru. At one point or the other, Pak terrorists have attacked these cities. The feet of Pakistani players won't touch Maharashtra but their tour of these cities is a matter of national shame," The Express Tribune quoted Thackeray, as telling a news channel.

He also accused the BCCI of 'betraying the country for sake of money' and Indian cricketers of being part of that betrayal.

Thackeray considers it an insult to those who had lost their lives in the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks.

The BCCI earlier announced that it had secured the government's clearance to host Pakistan for a short tour later this year.

The BCCI has invited Pakistan to play three one-dayers and two Twenty20 matches in December-January, the first bilateral contests between the arch-rivals in five years. (ANI)

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