Former Pakistani cricketer Shoaib Akhtar has said that India has every right to pull out of ICC World Cup 2019 clash against Pakistan after the Pulwama attack in Indian occupied Kashmir, however he criticised former Indian cricketers for antagonising the situation.
Speaking on a TV channel, Akhtar revealed that the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has always tried to attempt to initiate a bilateral series against Pakistan, however the Indian government has denied it every time.
He also added that had the Pakistan and India's favourable cricketing ties resumed, the broadcasters and BBCI would have benefitted the most.
Voicing his opinion on the matter, Akhtar said, "Honest reply, BCCI wants to play with Pakistan, the government says no. Had they played with Pakistan, Star Sports and BCCI would have earned the maximum revenue. The series would have a monetary value of 600 million dollars. Do you think they don't? Of course, they want that. Now speaking on part of their argument, they want to play with Pakistan. Our Pakistan board had mentioned that they want to play a bilateral series and you cannot deny it although the series can be held at a different venue altogether. But they have said that they have a board to run which falls under Supreme Court. That is their argument and that is logical."
Shoaib also condemned the Pulwama attack that killed 40 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) officials.
However, he said that he stands by the words of Prime Minister Imran Khan.
"Should sports stay political? Not at all. So these differences set in matters of circumstances. We strongly condemn the loss of lives. But when it comes to our country, we are one nation, united and we will stand by our Prime Minister's statement without having a second thought. They (India) have a right to pull out. Their country was attacked and hence the decision," Akhtar added.
Akhtar also expressed displeasure on former Indian cricketers disaffecting the situation in the wake of the terror attack as Sourav Ganguly, Harbhajan Singh and few others have called for a boycott of the Pakistan clash.
"Our forte is to talk about cricket and not about the political scene. When such things happen, try to create bridges as a cricketer. It is very important as players to talk about things that bring about unity rather than antagonising the situation," he said.
Meanwhile, the matter of India deciding not to play against Pakistan in the world cup will be settled in a meeting scheduled on Friday, after consultations with Indian Sports Ministry, Home Ministry and the Ministry of External Affairs on grounds of the cricketing ties with Pakistan.
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