Political leaders say 'sports should not be politicised'

New Delhi/Mumbai, Nov.5 (ANI): Commenting on Shiv Sena leader Bal Thackeray's remarks against India-Pakistan cricket match, politicians said on Monday that sports should not be politicised.

Chief of India's regional Shiv Sena party, Thackeray termed the invitation extended to Pakistan's cricket team by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) a day ago as a matter of "national shame".

Reacting to the statement, Congress leader Arjun Modhwadia said that sports should not be politicised and the matches between the two countries must take place.

"Whenever there is a cricket match between India and Pakistan, the matter is politicised and politicians start taking mileage to garner votes. Doesn't the country want that our players should play against Pakistan and win the match? Sports should not be politicised and the youth of the country will give an answer to the remarks of Bal Thackeray and those who are opposing it by playing against Pakistan," he said in New Delhi.

Bilateral cricket between the nuclear-armed neighbours were suspended after the 2008 Mumbai attacks in which 166 people were killed. India blamed Pakistan-based militants for the incident.

Meanwhile, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah also echoed similar views and said that India and Pakistan must play the match in a good environment.

"This remark can affect the relations between the two countries and I will not want that sports should be politicised. I would want that the Pakistan cricket team comes to India and play a match in a good environment," he said while addressing reporters in Jammu.

Thackeray had accused the Board Of Control For Cricket In India (BCCI) of "betraying the country for sake of money" and Indian cricketers of being part of that betrayal.

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

Leader of India's Congress party, Jagdambika Pal said that that matches between the two nations would prove beneficial for both the countries.

"If the match does not take place, it will not affect anything. However, if you ask the people of India or Pakistan, they would say that the match should happen," Pal said in western Mumbai city.

However, leader of India's main opposition, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Balbir Punj justified Thackeray's statement and said that on the one hand steps were being taken to strengthen the bilateral relations, while on the other hand militants were infiltrating in the country and disrupting the peace and harmony.

"On one hand you are having all these cricket matches, exchange of artists, and on the other you are busy training terrorists, who you try to smuggle to India, which in turn are trying to destroy our country. So, he is only trying to underline this ugly reality of India and Pakistan relations," Punj said.

India's cricket board announced earlier that it had secured government 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.

The last series between the two sides was Pakistan's tour of India in 2007 although Pakistan travelled to India to play the 50 overs World Cup semi-final in Mohali last year.

India and Pakistan have fought three wars in the past 65 years and already fragile relations were further strained since the carnage when gunmen attacked two upmarket hotels, a busy railway terminal and a fashionable cafe in Mumbai. (ANI)

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