Outgoing chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Shaharyar Khan has admitted that the failure to revive bilateral cricket ties with India will remain the biggest regret and failure of his three-year tenure.”If you ask me definitely I wanted to see Pakistan and India bilateral cricket restored. But it didn’t happen this time despite our best efforts,” he told PTI today. Shaharyar, a career diplomat who remained High Commissioner in India, said in his last tenure (2003-2006) he had managed to restore bilateral ties with India in 2004 and the visit of the Indian team to Pakistan was a massive success for cricket. “In my last tenure we had three bilateral series with India and it was a big source of satisfaction for me,” he said. Shaharyar, who has technically stepped down as chairman of the PCB and August 9 will be his last day in office, said unfortunately this time there was no cooperation from the Indian board (BCCI) at all. He admitted that the heightened political and diplomatic tensions between the two countries and incidents on the LOC didn’t help matters.
“I did my best this time as well because it is very important for India and Pakistan to play each other. The financial benefits of it are huge for both boards,” Shaharyar said. “I was even accused of literally begging with India to play a bilateral series. But I was only trying to convince the Indian board to fulfil commitments they made in the MOU they signed with us in 2014.” Shaharyar said cricket could play a big role in restoring some normalcy in relations between the two countries. “In the past also series have been held in not very good conditions. When we went there in 1999 and I was the manager and there were threats and all but in the end everything panned out well,” he said. “When India came to Pakistan in 2004 after 14 years it was an occasion to celebrate as we hosted Indian visitors and their players were also friendly and happy,” Shaharyar said Pakistan’s decision to now seek compensation from the BCCI for not honoring the MOU came only after repeated attempts to convince the Indian board to restore ties failed.
“We have lost a lot of money in millions of dollars since India’s refusal to play with us and remember we have not had international cricket in Pakistan since 2009. So what else can we do to improve our financial health,” he said. Shaharyar said it had been a challenge for Pakistan to keep its cricket going despite these major problems. “In such circumstances, I think it is a major feat for our team to won the Champions Trophy. And don’t forget we now have a very successful product in the Pakistan Super League,” he said.