Islamabad:The IPL snub for Pakistani cricketers threatened to escalate into a diplomatic row between the two countries with Pakistan threatening to retaliate and India asking Islamabad to introspect over the strains in bilateral ties.
"India or any other country that does not give respect to Pakistan will be treated the same way by us. If there is a desire to improve Indo-Pak friendship, respect should be given to Pakistani sportspersons," Pakistan Interior Minister Rehman Malik was quoted as saying in TV channels.
Twenty20 champions Pakistan was stunned after none of the country's 11 players, including current Twenty20 captain Shahid Afridi was signed up during the IPL auction on Tuesday. "The manner in which the players were "insulted" showed India is not serious about the peace process with Pakistan," Malik claimed.
Sportspersons are ambassadors of peace and India should have treated them with respect, he said, adding Pakistan will respond in a "befitting manner".
Sports Minister Ijaz Jakhrani was also critical of the treatment meted to the Pakistani players.
"The way India behaved with us is highly condemnable. We will give a befitting reply to them. When there is a question of Pakistan's pride we are united," he added.
In New Delhi, the External Affairs Ministry in a statement said the government had nothing to do with non-selection of Pakistani players in the IPL as it was a "commercial" event but asked Pakistan to introspect on reasons for the strain in bilateral ties.
The MEA termed as "unfortunate" the blame put on the government by Pakistan for the absence of Pakistani players in and rubbished reports that the Pakistani players were not opted for by the teams during the IPL auction because of apprehension that they will not get visas, saying "such apprehension is completely misplaced".
External Affairs Minister S M Krishna said "government has nothing to do with IPL, on selection of players and various exercises that are connected with it. So, Pakistan will have to draw a line between where Government of India is connected and where Government of India is an actor."
Krishna said this when reporters sought his comments on Rehman Malik's remarks that the manner in which the players were "insulted" showed that India was not serious about the peace process.