New Delhi, Jan.21 (ANI): Rubbishing Pakistan's claim that its eleven players did not win Indian Premier League contracts because of politics or visa concerns, the Ministry of External Affairs said Thursday that such apprehensions were misplaced.
"The participation or absence of Pakistani cricketers in a commercial event of the nature of IPL is, thus, a matter not within the purview of the government," the MEA said in a statement.
It termed the allegations as "unfortunate" and asked Pakistan to introspect on the reasons, which have put a strain on relations between India and Pakistan, and have adversely impacted on peace, stability and prosperity in the region.
Shahid Afridi's manager, Umran Khan, had told the BBC that franchisees were advised not to bid as Pakistan players would not be issued with visas.
Khan believes the visa issue was behind the failure of Pakistan players not winning IPL contracts.
The MEA further clarified that 17 Pakistani cricketers were issued requisite Indian visas at very short notice in December 2009 and January 2010 to participate in IPL 2010.
Based on a request from the Pakistan Cricket Board to the High Commission of India in Islamabad, the MEA also facilitated necessary clearances from other ministries of the Government of India.
Cricketers from Pakistan had participated in the first edition of IPL in 2008, but not in the second edition in 2009, which was held in South Africa. One Pakistani cricketer participated in the Champions League T-20 tournament held in India in October 2009.
Pakistan's Interior Minister Rehman Malik also charged the Indian Government with malafide intent on the IPL issue, and has threatened to cut off sporting ties with India.
A parliamentary delegation from Pakistan which was slated to visit India to attend the Diamond Jubilee celebrations of the Election Commission of India, has cancelled its visit in protest over the IPL embarrassment. By Naveen Kapoor(ANI)