Thackeray's latest: Pak's highest civilian honour for HM
Locking horns with Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde for promising the "best possible" security to the Pakistani team during the upcoming Indo-Pak cricket series, Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray on Friday scoffed at him saying he should be bestowed the title of 'Nishan-e-Pakistan' (Pakistan's highest civilian honour).
Thackeray, who has threatened to disrupt the matches, said his opposition to the tour is born out of "staunch nationalism" and not political interest.
He also targeted the Indian cricket team, terming its members as "businessmen in the guise of cricketers".
"If protecting foreign actors and players is your responsibility, whose job is it to protect lives and properties of Indian citizens under threat from Pakistani terrorists," the Sena patriarch said in an editorial in party mouthpiece Saamana.
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Image: Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray has slamed Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde over security to Pak team
'Businessmen in the guise of cricketers to play with Pak'
Describing Ajmal Kasab, Afzal Guru and Abu Jundal as "actors who specialise in the art of terror attacks", Thackeray said, "They have been kept alive by you in special protection."
"You have to be honoured with 'Nishan-e-Pakistan' and Order of Pakistan titles," he said and deplored that not one Indian cricketer had opposed the tour.
"This is all the game of money. Innocent people die in terror attacks; soldiers lay down their lives fighting terrorists from across the border, but businessmen in the guise of cricketers are set to play the game with Pakistanis," he said.
Image: Fans in Allahabad celebrate India's win over Pakistan in the Asia Cup
'Kasab, Afzal Guru, Jundal are actors who specialise in art of terror'
Shinde, while responding to Thackeray's threat of disrupting the matches, had on Thursday deprecated mixing sports and culture with politics, and said best possible security will be provided to Pakistani team and spectators.
The Shiv Sena chief had on Monday called upon "staunch Hindus and patriotic people of India" to disrupt the matches that would revive cricketing ties between the two countries, snapped after 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks in 2008. Thackeray also lashed out at Shinde for his statement "to forget the past" and play cricket with Pakistan.
Though Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his then Pakistani counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani had watched the high-profile World Cup semi-final in Mohali last year, the two countries have not had a bilateral series since Pakistan's 2007 tour of India.
The arch sub-continental rivals are to play three One-Day Internationals and two Twenty20 Internationals between December 2012 and January 2013. The ODI matches will be played in Chennai, Kolkata and New Delhi and the Twenty20 games in Bangalore and Ahmedabad.