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Malik says Indian tour will ease tensions

The Pakistan cricket captain Shoaib Malik says the simmering tension between India and Pakistan in the wake of the Mumbai attacks can be lessened through cricket diplomacy.

The Pakistan captain Shoaib Malik at a banquet for the Pakistani and West Indies cricket teams in Abu Dhabi on Nov 11, 2008.
The Pakistan captain Shoaib Malik at a banquet for the Pakistani and West Indies cricket teams in Abu Dhabi on Nov 11, 2008.

ISLAMABAD // The Pakistan cricket captain Shoaib Malik says the simmering tension between India and Pakistan in the wake of the Mumbai attacks can be lessened through cricket diplomacy. "Everyone is sad whatever happened in Mumbai last week, but sporting activities should continue to ease the tension," Malik said at the National Cricket Academy in Lahore. "Whenever there has been tension (between India and Pakistan), cricket diplomacy has helped it. And this time cricket diplomacy could also return things to normal."

Tension between India and Pakistan heightened after suspected Muslim militants conducted co-ordinated attacks on India's financial hub last week, killing 172 people and wounding 239. Indian authorities claim the attackers originated in Pakistan. The Mumbai attacks have cast further doubt on the likelihood of India's scheduled cricket tour of Pakistan in January, but Malik was adamant the series - due to comprise three Tests, five one-day internationals and a Twenty20 international - should go ahead.

"People of the subcontinent are passionate about cricket and the Indian team should play in Pakistan as per schedule," Malik said. "By playing cricket we could divert the attention of the people and the situation will definitely improve." Malik also called on England to resume their tour of India after they returned home before completing their seven-match limited-overs international series. English officials have said the team will return for two Test matches, starting Dec 11, but some leading players have expressed doubt over wanting to restart the tour.

"It will be very good if England return to India and play the Test matches because cricket should go on," Malik said. Pakistan are the only one of cricket's nine Test playing nations to have not played a Test match in 2008 after Australia postponed their tour in March due to security concerns. The Board of Control for Cricket in India is still waiting for clearance from their government to send a team to Pakistan.

The Indian government recently stopped its junior national field hockey team from playing a series in Pakistan due to security reasons. *AP