India tour to Pak possible in 2004: ACC

KARACHI: The Asian Cricket Council (ACC) has said that Indo-Pak cricketing ties might resume in early 2004 as cricket boards of both the countries have given greens signals to play against each other, The News reported on Sunday. A senior official of the council claimed that the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has indicated that the Indian team will tour Pakistan in February-March 2004.

"Since both the boards of Pakistan and India are keen and sincere in reviving the ties I foresee cricket happening between Pakistan and India on regular basis. I am hopeful it will resume in February-March next year as we have got signals that India will tour Pakistan," Asian Cricket Council Chief Executive Ashraful Haq was quoted as saying on Saturday.

He said: "Cricket in Asia heads nowhere if Pakistan and India do not play, even the existence of the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) is meaningless."

Haq said the ACC was doing its best to restore the severed ties between the two countries.

"The ACC is doing everything to trigger a breakthrough and for this we have arranged three junior level events involving junior teams of Pakistan and India which will pave way for senior cricket," said the official.

Haq, who is currently touring Pakistan to watch a local cricket tournament, played first class cricket in Pakistan before the 1971 separation of Bangladesh.

India had snapped all sporting ties with Pakistan following the December 13 Parliament attack, which New Delhi blamed on Pakistan-based militants. For the past two years Pakistan has been trying hard to convince India to play cricket, but the latter has been all along rejecting the proposal.
The Pakistan Cricket Board had also proposed a friendship series of two one-day matches, one in each country, in September this year but have received no response from its Indian counterparts