The continuing freeze on Indo-Pak bilateral cricket is "frustrating", says Shoaib Akhtar but the former pacer does not agree with PCB Chairman Zaka Ashraf's "politically incorrect" statement that the Indians are intimidated by the prospect of taking on an in-form Pakistan.
"Obviously it is frustrating the way the Indians have avoided playing us for some reason or the other all these years. But I think Zaka Ashraf's statement was a bit too strong and he needed to be careful while giving comments because of his position as PCB Chairman," the former pacer said on a television show.
The fast bowler said he could understand the mindset of the PCB chief when he made the statement on relations with India.
'Ashraf's comment was a bit too strong'
"But it was a bit too strong. I think he meant that Pakistan in its current form could beat anyone. It is also a fact that since 1985 we have won more matches against India because we have produced some of the most exciting talent in international cricket," he said.
Akhtar, who retired during the 2011 World Cup, said it was unfortunate that Pakistan and India didn't play against each other more often as it deprived the cricket followers in both countries of great contests.
Akhtar has also urged the ICC to reduce the five-year ban on teen fast bowler Muhammad Aamir for involvement in spot-fixing as he feels the youngster deserves a second chance."Everyone deserves a second chance in life. Everyone makes mistakes. He should be made to realise the wrong he has done. But he should also be used as a role model to educate others about the evil of corruption in sports," Akhtar said.
'Aamir can come back and show the world he is reformed'
The 19-year-old Aamir was released from a young offender's institution last week in the UK after he completed three months of a six month jail sentence for his role in the spot-fixing scandal that rocked international cricket when Pakistan toured England in 2010.
The left-arm pacer still has to complete the five-year ban that was last year imposed on him and two other Pakistani players, Salman Butt and Muhammad Asif for the same offence.
But Akhtar felt that Aamir had been trapped into committing a criminal offence because of his young age.
"He is a great talent and if he can comeback and show the world that he is now reformed. If he can win matches for Pakistan what better message to send out to people who are seduced into corruption that crime does not pay," Akhtar said.
'PCB should ask ICC to reconsider Aamir's five year ban'
"The PCB should rehabilitate and educate him and ask the ICC to reconsider the five year ban. I am happy to read that PCB Chairman, Zaka Ashraf has also spoken about rehabilitating Aamir," Akhtar said.
Aamir's mentor and coach Asif Bajwa also supported Akhtar's contention.
"I agree that Aamir was very young when he got trapped into this scandal. I know he has learnt his lesson. He needs to be given a chance to show the world that he is sorry for what he did," Bajwa said.