Indian tour of Pak remains uncertain

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> India and Pakistan tonight hoped that the upcoming tour of the 'men in blue' to Pakistan would take place as scheduled but uncertainty loomed large.

Updated: November 26, 2008 18:10 IST
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New Delhi:

India and Pakistan tonight hoped that the upcoming tour of the 'men in blue' to Pakistan would take place as scheduled but uncertainty loomed large over the event in view of persisting security concerns because of which some senior players have also reportedly refused to go.

Pakistan sought to allay concerns, saying it would ensure protection of the players but the Indian side gave no assurance on the tour and maintained that clearance would be given only after a security assessment is made.

"It (the tour in January) should come through. We are aware of the concerns and we will try to address all of them," Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi told a joint press conference with External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee.

Intervening, Mukherjee said "I hope the tour comes through and the people will enjoy it".

Acknowledging the concerns, Qureshi said necessary security would be provided to the team.

Seeking to reassure New Delhi on security aspect, Qureshi said an Indian tennis team is currently playing in Pakistan as is the shooting team and they are "enjoying their stay" there.

"We missed the Indian hockey team," the Pakistan Foreign Minister said, adding "you (cricket team) are welcome".

Asked whether the bilateral relations would be affected if the tour does not come through, Qureshi replied "why be negative. I am not negative at all. I have come here with a positive note".

However, despite the assurances, government here remains apprehensive over security and therefore gave no commitment to Pakistan about the tour coming through.

Sources said India will undertake the usual drill of sending a security team to assess situation before giving a go-ahead. A decision in this regard is expected to be taken shortly as the government wants to end the suspense.

Concerns over the security of the Test and one-day series have reportedly been voiced by some senior players as well and they are said to be unwilling to travel to the strife-torn country.

Television channels said skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and Virender Sehwag were among those unwilling to go on the tour scheduled early next year. The reports, quoting sources, said that the players had conveyed their views to the BCCI.

The BCCI, however, rubbished the reports saying it had not received any communication from the players. "When the team for the Pakistan tour has not yet been selected yet, where is the question of players saying they don't want to tour", said Rajiv Shukla, who is the Chairman of the Finance Committee.

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