“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.
The bilateral cricketing ties between the two countries have already been suspended since 2012 and the teams last played a full series in 2007.
“Where does it hurt Pakistan? It hurts them when they don’t play a bilateral series against India. In a multi-team event, India will lose by not playing them. The entire matter needs to be looked at with a little more depth, I can understand emotions are running high,” said Gavaskar.
“But what happens when you don’t play them? I know India are strong enough side to qualify even after conceding those two points but why not beat them and make sure they don’t qualify.”
Gavaskar’s plea to Imran Khan
Gavaskar urged Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan to take the necessary “first step” towards improving ties with India.
“Let me speak directly to Imran Khan, someone who I have admired so much, who I think is a friend. Let me say to Imran: when you took over you said that it is going to be a new Pakistan.”
“You said that ‘India should take the first step and Pakistan will take two steps’. But not as a politician, as an average sportsperson, I want to say to you that Pakistan is the one which should take the first step.
“You ensure there is no cross-border infiltration, you ensure that those in Pakistan who are creating problems in India are handed over, if not to India, then to the UN. You take those two steps and you see the number of friendly steps India will take,” he said.
“I know many Indian and Pakistani cricketers are friends. You (Imran) are my friend, Wasim (Akram) is my friend, Ramiz (Raja) is my friend, Shoaib (Akhtar) is my friend. We have such a good time when we meet in India or outside and I think the people of the two countries deserve that good time.”
“So, you take that first step. Let the Naya (New) Pakistan take this big first step and you will see India taking a number of steps. The love and affection that Imran gets in India is unbelievable.
“He has spent a lot of time in the country. He knows the Indian people better than any other Pakistan and I do believe that he is capable of taking these steps,” said Gavaskar.