Pakistan reviving sporting ties with India through cycling
LAHORE: India has given Pakistani cyclists clearance to participate in an international race, a Pakistani cycling official said on Monday, leading to hopes other sporting fixtures might be revived.
India froze ties – including sporting ones – with Pakistan after the terrorist attacks on Mumbai in 2008, which New Delhi blamed on militants based across the border.
The worst-hit sport is cricket, which is wildly popular in both countries, but Pakistan have been pressing hard for a tour of India next year.
“It is a welcome sign that India have cleared our cyclists’ visit to participate in September 11 race,” said Idrees Haider Khawaja, secretary of the Pakistan Cycling Federation.
“We hope that other sporting relations will also be restored in near future.”
Pakistan has chosen a six-man team, which will cross the border to join cyclists from the hosts, Afghanistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and South Korea in the race in New Delhi.
Attempts to revive hockey ties are also under discussion between the arch-rivals, who share 11 Olympic hockey golds between them.
Pakistan and India also agreed to play a two-match football series in England this month, but that was put off after riots in the host country.
Khawaja said he hoped the cyclists will help forge better ties between the neighbours.
“Our cyclists will take with them a message of goodwill and we hope that cycling opens the way for more and more sporting ties,” he said.