PM Singh hopes to ease tension with WC invite to Pakistan?

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PM Manmohan Singh-Asif Ali Zardari
New Delhi, Mar 26: It's cricket diplomacy at work once again and with the cricket fervour at an all-time high, after it was found that India will play rivals Pakistan in the semi-final of the Cricket World Cup on Mar 30 at Mohali.

Calling it the finals before the finals and keeping up with the upbeat mood among fans in both countries, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has upped the frenzy by inviting Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani to watch the match.

In the letter of invitation to Zardari, the PM said, "There is huge excitement over the match and we are all looking forward to a great game of cricket that will be a victory for sport. It gives me great pleasure to invite you to visit Mohali and join me and the millions of fans from our two countries to watch the match."

He also extended the invitation to Gilani and his wife in a separate letter.

The invitation gains prominence since it comes just after the Home Secretary-level talks between both countries on Mar 28-29. It is also important because this will be the first visit by a Pakistani premier on Indian soil after the 26/11 terrorist attacks that has caused considerable friction among both countries. If either the Pakistan President or Prime Minister accepts the invite, this will be the first bilateral event that will see two countries meeting in an informal setting.

The Pakistani counterparts have still not confirmed if they will attend the match. Will 'cricket diplomacy' give tangible results and act as a lubricant to ease friction among both countries. Only time will tell.

OneIndia News

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