Jagran Post

Special visas for Pak cricket fans

Karachi: India on Friday said it would try to ensure that maximum number of Pakistani fans travel across the border to watch matches when the two countries resume cricket ties next month after a gap of four years.
     
Sharat Sabharwal, Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan, met PCB officials at the Board's headquarters in Lahore and said they were considering granting a special category of visa to Pakistani fans but did not promise anything.
     
Sabharwal said the PCB chief had written to him sometime back regarding issuance of the special category visa.
     
"This is still work in progress and I can't say anything specific on this issue. But we are very actively looking at this issue and we are giving a thought to it and our effort will be to ensure maximum number of people get to watch the matches in India," Sabharwal said at a media conference.
     
"I had a meeting with him (Ashraf) and congratulated him on the work done by the PCB and BCCI to ensure that the cricketing ties, which were in abeyance for some time, are being resumed," he said.
     
The Indian HC visited the PCB headquarters on the invitation of the PCB Chairman Zaka Ashraf, who said he was hopeful there will be some good news for Pakistani fans who wish to travel to India for the series. Pakistan team is due to tour India from December 22 to play two T20 matches and three one-day internationals.
     
Ashraf said a delegation would go to India by the end of November to check security arrangements for the series. Asked about whether he would recommend to his government to send the Indian team to Pakistan next year, Sabharwal said he would not like to impose himself on territory which belongs to the two Boards.
     
"I can tell you that we in principle encourage and want expansion of sports between the two countries but what matches are to be played and when they are to be played I leave that to the Boards," he said.  Sabharwal also assured good security for the Pakistani players in India.
    
"We are encouraging people-to-people contact and sports ties also play a important role and we feel this coming series could be an important step in better relations," he added. The Indian HC said during his visit he had been impressed by the facilities at the national cricket academy.
     
Ashraf said PCB was greatly honoured by the visit of the Indian HC to the Board office. "He has been kind to accept our invitation to come to Lahore and visit our offices. I think the understanding is on Pakistan and India side that lots of other positive developments are coming up. The Indian HC has given some very positive signals for Pakistani cricket fans," Ashraf said.
     
The PCB Chief said he had no doubt international cricket will come to Pakistan once the security issue is taken off.
     
"Already we are having foreign teams and recently the British team played in Pindi so I am hopeful people will get good news in 2013 and 14," he said.

(Agencies)

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