Javed Miandad, the PCB director-general, has said India and Pakistan should back each other in terms of cricket in the wake of the recent Mumbai terror attacks. Pakistan, he said, were keen to play in India and as a reciprocal gesture of goodwill, India should go ahead with their tour of Pakistan in January next year.
"Both India and Pakistan are victims of terrorism and cricket will bridge the gap between the two nations," he told the Hindustan Times. "Pakistan has gone through the same ordeal and suffered not just economically but in terms of cricket too. Our players are starved of international matches and this is the right time for India and Pakistan to complement each other."
Miandad, a former Pakistan captain, said he hoped that India was not isolated in international cricket, given that the ODI series against England was curtailed, the two-Test series hangs in the balance and the Champions League scheduled for December 3-10 has been postponed.
"The English team is sulking and the Champions League is also cancelled," said Miandad. "This is the right time for the Asian bloc to show some solidarity by coming together and assuring the world that the subcontinent is safe for cricket."
India had visited Pakistan in June-July for the Asia Cup this year, but concerns increased when the Champions Trophy, due to be held in September, was postponed following security concerns by some participating nations.
The January tour has been thrown into further jeopardy after the Indian government's charge that the terrorists who attacked Mumbai had Pakistani links - a charge Pakistan has denied.
Pakistan themselves have suffered from the postponements this year and if India refuse to tour, it could leave Pakistan without a Test from December 2007 to June 2009, when they are scheduled to visit Sri Lanka.
Miandad pointed out that for the first time an all-cricket body was in power in the PCB and those concerned were concentrating on improving cricket in the country. "Terrorism is a persisting problem and we are even trying to formulate a strategy to give the best security cover to visiting teams. We understand the fear factor and have, therefore, hit upon this plan, which will be sent to the government for ratification soon enough," he said.
A similar sentiment was echoed by Pakistan captain Shoaib Malik Pakistan captain who believed "cricket diplomacy" would help ease tensions between the two countries. "If we play cricket matches then the people of both the countries will have a chance to divert their attention and the situation will definitely improve," he told reporters. "Cricket diplomacy has helped in the past as well in the same manner."
"We badly need cricket because we have not played a single Test this year and are anxiously waiting for the India series."
He was also hopeful that England would return to India for the Tests which would not only "be a very good decision" but would also ensure that cricket continued, even during these troubled times.
India's tour, scheduled from January 4 to February 19, includes three Tests, five ODIs and a Twenty20 international.