Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Ehsan Mani on Tuesday said it was “hypocrisy” on part of the Board of Control for Cricket in India that it lets India play Pakistan during ICC tournaments but ignores bilateral ties. The BCCI has repeatedly insisted that it needs government clearance to play bilateral series.
A frustrated PCB has filed a compensation case of Rs 447 crore with the Disputes Resolution Forum of ICC for not honouring an MoU which required the two countries to play six bilateral series between 2015 and 2023. The hearing in the case concluded earlier this month. “There is a lot of hypocrisy at the moment. India plays an ICC event against us but doesn’t play a bilateral series. That is something that we need to address,” Mani told ESPNCricinfo.
Mani stressed the resumption of bilateral cricketing ties is necessary as fans from both sides are eager to watch the two countries compete against each other. “The main thing is that we play cricket against each other. When we play cricket, especially in our countries – when we go to India or when they come here – helps in increasing people-to-people contact. Indian fans come to Pakistan. Lakhs of fans have come to Pakistan from India and everyone goes back happy.”
“There’s no better way to improve the relations between countries than having sporting contacts, cultural contacts. For me, that is far more important than any amount of money that comes into the game,” Mani said.
PCB has not been able to generate revenue as India have not been a part of their cricketing fixture for years now. The two countries last played a short limited overs bilateral back in 2012. Mani said, Indo-Pak series had the “highest value financially in the world”, but he maintained that the PCB’s desire for the resumption of ties was about more than money.
When asked if Pakistan cricket could survive without bilaterals against India, he had a one-word answer: “forever.” “Money isn’t the issue, it’s more about the game,” he said. “There are more viewers for an India-Pakistan match than any other match in the world. So, if the Indian government decides to deprive its own citizens of watching an India-Pakistan match then that is their choice.”
He also said that with India going into the general elections in 2019, he knows that chances of a series in near future is bleak. “[The] Indian public obviously love to see India and Pakistan playing, and so does the Pakistan public. Rest of the work is of the politicians and frankly, once India is in the lead-up to its elections next year, so I don’t think there will be any softening in their attitude. But in the long term, the people want it and you can’t go against the will of the people forever.”