Should India-Pakistan cricket ties resume?
It's been discussed for some time now. The resumption of cricketing ties between India and Pakistan, that is.
The two neighbours haven't played a bilateral series owing to political reasons since 2007, when Pakistan toured India. Three ODIs in the last three years is all they have met in.
On Tuesday, PCB chairman Zaka Ashraf expressed confidence about international cricket's return to Pakistan next year, and hope that the Indian team would visit the strife-torn country sooner than later.
With leaders of the two countries meeting frequently in recent times, coupled with the fact that the respective Boards are keen for the same, speculation is rife that it won't be long before an announcement to this effect is made.
But even if cricketing ties do resume, one cannot negate the possibility of them getting affected by political considerations yet again.
Even though sporting relations between the two countries have suffered owing to political tensions, cricket diplomacy has played a part in bringing the neighbours closer.
Image: Former Pakistan President General Pervez Musharraf (left) recieves a bat with autographs of Indian players from former India captain Sourav Ganguly during a meeting in Islamabad on March 17, 2004
'Cricket should be kept away from politics'
If it was Zia-ul-Haq who set the precedent in 1987 by watching a Test with his Indian counterpart (Rajiv Gandhi); earlier this year Prime Minister Manmohan Singh followed suit inviting his Pakistan counterpart (Yousuf Raza Gilani) and President Asif Ali Zardari to Mohali to watch the much-hyped World Cup semi-final between the two countries.
The success of that match led to calls of resuming bilateral series between the teams.
The Pakistan board has already taken the first step to this effect, expressing intent to tour India first, if need be.
The Indian team touring Pakistan seems out of question at present considering international cricket has been suspended in that country since the terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan team in Lahore in March 2009.
Ashraf, who took over from Ijaz Butt last month, had earlier this month said he had written to BCCI president N Srinivasan to revive the series between the two countries, 'because it's a game and should be kept away from politics'.
Image: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of India shakes hands with Sachin Tendulkar as Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani of Pakistan looks on prior to the start of the 2011 ICC World Cup second semi-final
Photographs: Getty Images
India-Pakistan is an important fixture and we will support that: Lorgat
The fact that only a handful of countries play cricket further increases the importance of such a popular series, something the international cricketing body (ICC) is fully aware of.
'India-Pakistan is a seriously important fixture and we will support that. We can make a request to India, it is up to India to decide where they want to play,' Haroon Lorgat was quoted as saying to the media recently.
There is a big glitch though.
With Team India having a packed itinerary, culling out dates for a possible bilateral series, irrespective of where it is played, is an impossible task. The ICC's future tours programme (FTP) includes a Pakistan tour to India for a Test series in March and April next year, but, at the moment, the possibility appears a bit far-fetched.
However, before a possible schedule is drawn, there are important questions that beg answers.
Are cricket fans, exhausted with an excess of cricket in recent times, ready for such a series? Should India-Pakistan cricket ties resume? Should the cricket-starved neighbours tour India?
What's your opinion? Have your say
Image: Cricket fans display their loyalties