M A I N   N E W S

India invites Pervez to watch match
Tribune News Service and PTI

New Delhi/Islamabad, March 9
India has invited Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf to watch one of the matches in the current Indo-Pak cricket series and Pakistan said the General was “positively thinking” of visiting India.

External Affairs Minister K. Natwar Singh told reporters in London that the invitation for General Musharraf is with the Indian High Commission in Islamabad and would be handed over to the Pakistan President on his return from a visit to Central Asia.

He said it was up to General Musharraf to decide the date and venue of the cricket match he wants to watch.

In Delhi, the External Affairs Ministry spokesman said “the Prime Minister would welcome a visit by the President of Pakistan to witness one of the India-Pakistan cricket matches.

“The Governments of India and Pakistan are in touch with one another in this context,” he said.

“It is a friendly visit...Every visit does not have to become a state visit,” Prime Minister’s Media Adviser Sanjaya Baru said.

India would be happy to host the Pakistan President for witnessing any of the matches, he said.

Pakistan Information Minister Sheikh Rashid said in Islamabad that General Musharraf was “positively thinking” of going to India but it is not confirmed that which date or which match he is coming to see.

“It is under process. It is under discussion,” he added.

The Tribune understands that the two countries are in touch through diplomatic channels to work on the likely venue and date of Gen Musharraf’s visit to India for cricket diplomacy. The Left Front, which is in power in West Bengal, is keen on hosting Gen Musharraf in Kolkata.

Within the UPA government, there has been a lot of debate on the question of inviting Gen Musharraf to India, considering his reputation for indulging in commando-style diplomacy which was in full bloom during his visit to Agra in July 2001.

One strand of thought in the government circles here was to invite Gen Musharraf to watch a one-day match in Ahmedabad.

The picture will become clearer only in the next couple of days.

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