Former external affairs minister Salman Khurshid, on Tuesday, justified India's refusal to play bilateral cricket with Pakistan during the International Cricket Council's Disputes Resolution Committee hearing into a compensation claim against the Board of Control for Cricket in India, a Board official said.
The hearing, which began Monday, will decide whether BCCI is to pay the Rs 447 crore damages sought by the PCB for not honouring a so-called Memorandum of Understanding to play six bilateral series between 2015 and 2023. The BCCI has maintained that the MOU is not legally binding.
"Khurshid's presence definitely took the PCB by surprise. They were not expecting a former MEA to come in for cross-examination. Also a legal expert. He gave UPA II's stand on why India didn't tour Pakistan post the Mumbai terror attacks in 2008," the BCCI official told PTI, quoting from Khurshid's statement in the court, on condition of anonymity.
Khurshid, who was the external affairs minister during the UPA-II government which finished its term in 2014, was presented by the BCCI as one of its prime defence witnesses on Tuesday. He, however, could not be reached for a comment on his statement at the hearing.
"During the cross-examination Khurshid told the ICC's Dispute Resolution Forum that the erstwhile UPA government acted on various world intelligence agencies' reports on threat perception of playing cricket in Pakistan. He explained why it was impossible to send Indian cricket team to Pakistan after terror attacks," he said.
The official also claimed that Khurshid stuck to the oft-stated government stand that bilateral engagements with Pakistan cannot resume without an end to cross-border terrorism.
"Khurshid also clearly said that time and again the Indian government had made it clear that unless cross-border terrorism stopped, it would be difficult to resume bilateral cricketing ties."
The BCCI official also said Khurshid's cross-examination happened first as he had other commitments.
The others, who will be cross-examined during the hearing, are former IPL CEO Sundar Raman, former BCCI GM (Game development) Prof Ratnakar Shetty, current ICC chairman Shashank Manohar and former BCCI secretary Sanjay Patel.
"We are confident that we will win the case. PCB's bone of contention is a one-page email which doesn't count as MoU. It was an email sent by Patel as a part of quid pro quo deal with PCB. They didn't support our revenue model and the deal to play six bilaterals fell through."