New Delhi, Dec 12: Sports Minister MS Gill on Friday sent a strong message across the border by bluntly suggesting that the Indian cricket team's tour of Pakistan should not go ahead in the wake of the terror attacks in Mumbai. He said it was not the right time to play cricket with Pakistan when "people from their soil were indulging in mass murder in India".
"Is it possible for one team to arrive in Mumbai and indulge in mass murder, and have another team go and play cricket in the winter afternoon sun at Lahore, immediately after," he said.
Gill said he was not in favour of the Indian team playing in Pakistan but it was upto the government to take a final decision. The Sports Minister's categorical comment came on a day when Pakistan Cricket Board's chairman Ejaz Butt is scheduled to meet ICC Chief Executive Haroon Lorgat and BCCI officials at Chennai in a bid to salvage the series.
The Indian team is scheduled to play five ODIs, three Tests and a Twenty20 match during their January 6 to February 19 tour, subject to government clearance.
The Sports Minister said sporting contact meant to enhance friendship and the cricket series was not a commercial drama to go ahead under the surveillance of thousands of security personnel.
"I have played cricket. I know the spirit of cricket. Cricket is not commerce," he said, adding "sports contact is for enhancing friendship between human beings, above all neighbours," Gill said. He also felt commercial reasons could not be a factor in deciding the fate of the series.
India's junior hockey team, Champions Trophy and Australia's tour of Pakistan were among the prominent sporting events which were cancelled this year.
Gill said Pakistan should first promise that it would help the world to stop terrorism. "It requires those in authority in Pakistan to give a clear indication, satisfactory to the world, of doing everything possible to prevent such murderous incursion, and to root out the basis of it all," he said.
Meanwhile the BCCI had said that, it will follow the Union government's dictate on the forthcoming tour of Pakistan, and do whatever the government asks them to do as well. The BCCI's Chief of the Media Committee told TIMES NOW that the board will respect the decision of the Indian government on the tour.