Since the Pulwama terrorist attack which killed more than 40 CRPF personnel, there have been talks roaming around related to India ending many business, cultural and sporting ties with Pakistan. India are to play Pakistan on 16 June at Old Trafford in Manchester and many cricketers, politicians and cricket administrators have expressed their opinion on the same.
Here's a look at who said what on the topic of severing cricketing ties between India and Pakistan: Indian cricketer Harbhajan Singh earlier said that the BCCI should boycott the India-Pakistan tie set to take place in the World Cup later this year. He said, "India should not play Pakistan in the World Cup. India are powerful enough to win the World Cup without having to play Pakistan."
On Wednesday, Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said that he could not make any comment on the the issue. However, he said that those asking for the boycott of the matches are justified in their demand. He told India Today, "I cannot make any comment (on cricket issues) except to say those who are demanding it have some justification. You can see many films and concerts have been cancelled. Things are not normal. If things are not normal, the jhappiyan-pappiyan (hugs and kisses) issues have always been there." He added that the BCCI and ICC will have to take a call on the issue as it is an international tournament. He said, "Since it's an international tournament, the ICC and our Indian cricket board (BCCI) have to take a call after consideration with our security establishment. ICC CEO
David Richardson, on Tuesday, had made it clear that no change in World Cup schedule has been thought of in wake of the Pulwama terror attacks. "Our thoughts are with everyone who has been affected by this terrible incident and we will be monitoring the situation with our Members," Richardson said, offering his condolences on the ghastly terror attack in which 40 CRPF personnel were martyred. "There is no indication that any (of the) matches at the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup will not go ahead as planned," Richardson said in a statement to PTI.
Indian Premier League (IPL) chairman and politician Rajeev Shukla said that untill government gives a go-ahead, India will not play Pakistan. He said, "Our position is very clear. Unless government gives us nod, we are not going to play with Pakistan. Sports should be above all these things but if somebody is sponsoring terrorism, obviously it will affect sports also." On talks of India not playing Pakistan in World Cup, Shukla said that a decision can be taken closer to the tournament, which is still more than three months away.
Indian leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal feels the country should take strong action to end terror attacks like Pulwama, which claimed the lives of 40 CRPF personnel, but refused to say whether the World Cup game against Pakistan should be boycotted. "This should settle once and for all. We can't tolerate it any longer," Chahal told 'India Today'. "Every three months we get to hear about our jawans losing their lives to terrorism and we can't keep waiting for things to happen. We have to make things happen and we should settle this face to face, even if that means aar paar ki ladaai (fight on the battlefield)," he added. India are scheduled to play Pakistan on June 16 at Old Trafford in the upcoming World Cup and the 28-year-old leg-spinner said it is for the BCCI to decide if India should boycott playing the arch-rivals in the tournament. "The decision to play the World Cup match against Pakistan has to be taken by the BCCI and the government. One or two players cannot decide but I think it is high time and we need to take strong action against the perpetrators of terrorism," he said.
Former India opener Chetan Chauhan feels BCCI should put pressure on the ICC and throw Pakistan out of the competition. "...we don't have the option of not playing just one match as there is a chance that we could meet them in semi-final or final. In that case, either we pull out of World Cup or play the full tournament," said Chauhan, who is also the Uttar Pradesh sports minister. "Now, I believe India is still the market for 60 to 70 percent of ICC's global sponsorship. So, the BCCI should put pressure on the ICC and try to get Pakistan out of the World Cup. "Trust me a World Cup cricket event can easily survive without Pakistan but it won't survive without an Indian team. I believe, you cannot just ignore the public sentiment after the Pulwama attack.
Sourav Ganguly echoed sentiments of his one-time teammate Harbhajan Singh, saying that not playing Pakistan in one group league tie in the upcoming World Cup will not affect India's chances. "This is a 10-team World Cup and each team plays matches against every other team and I feel if India doesn't play a match in the World Cup, it won't be an issue," Ganguly told India TV. "I feel it will be really difficult for ICC to go on with a World Cup without India. But, you also have to see if India has the power to stop ICC from doing such a thing. But, personally, I feel a strong message should be sent," Ganguly added.
Former India captain Sunil Gavaskar, however, said that India should not give Pakistan a chance to get the crucial two points in the World Cup. "Who wins if India decide against playing Pakistan in the World Cup? And I am not even talking about the semis and the finals. Who wins? Pakistan win because they get two points," Gavaskar told India Today. "India have so far beaten Pakistan every time in a World Cup, so we are actually conceding two points when by beating Pakistan, we could make sure that they don't advance in the competition. "(But) I am with the country, whatever the government decides, I am with it totally. If the country wants we shouldn't play Pakistan, I am with them," he added.
Former Pakistan pacer Shoaib Akhtar cleared his statement on the India-Pakistan cricketing ties issue. He wrote on Twitter that he was misquoted on many Indian websites on the Pulwama attacks.
He wrote, "I completely deny the false news by Indian media about my statement on Indian cricket team/World Cup 2019. I did not make any statement at all and Indian media is making it up. I condemn the loss of lives. Both countries should come to the table to resolve the issues."
Sachin Tendulkar endorsed Sunil Gavaskar's view that India should not be forfeiting the 16 June tie against Pakistan in the wake of the Pulwama terror attack that killed more than 40 CRPF personnel.
"India has always come up trumps against Pakistan in the World Cup. Time to beat them once again. Would personally hate to give them two points and help them in the tournament," said Tendulkar in a statement to PTI.
Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed has said that politics and sports should never mixed. He said, ""The India and Pakistan match should be played as per schedule as there are millions of people who want to watch this game. I just don't think cricket should be targeted for political gains."
Indian captain Virat Kohli, however, said that the last call on the game should be taken by the government of India and the BCCI. He said, "We stand by what the nation wants to do and what the BCCI decides to do. We will go by what the govt & the Board decides, we will respect that."
Former India captain Kapil Dev reiterated what Kohli had said. He said that government and the BCCI should decide on whether the match should go on as scheduled and not the public. He said, "To play or not to play is something which does not have to be decided by people like us. It has to be decided by the government. It's better if we don't give an opinion and leave it to the government and concerned people. Whatever they decide will be in the interest of the nation. We'll do what they want."
Committee of Administrators (CoA) chief Vinod Rai Sunday said the sporting community "needs to ostracise Pakistan" for fomenting terror activities just like South Africa was banned from international cricket due to the country's policy on apartheid.
"We would be shooting in the foot if we don't play Pakistan in the World Cup. Our aim should be to ostracise Pakistan as a cricketing nation," said Rai.
With inputs from PTI