Mumbai: The hockey heads of tense neighbours India and Pakistan are attempting to renew ties later this year in the wake of last month’s successful “cricket diplomacy.”
Efforts are underway between the federations of the two countries, who have not played in a bilateral series since the 2008 Mumbai attacks, to play matches in both countries, Hockey India secretary Narinder Batra told Reuters on Wednesday.
“We are looking to play three matches in India and three in Pakistan if we receive government clearances,” Batra said.
“Dialogues are ongoing but everything depends on permission from the governments.
“We are eyeing a period around the middle of August or the first week of September. It suits both our calendars.”
Relations between the nuclear-armed neighbours, who have fought three wars since their 1947 independence, deteriorated since attacks in Mumbai, which India blames on Pakistan-based militants, killed at least 166 people.
Pakistan Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani visited India last month to watch the cricket World Cup semi-final featuring the neighbours in what was dubbed as “cricket diplomacy”.
Since then, both Indian and Pakistani media have also speculated the resumption of cricket ties between the two countries.
Pakistan’s interior minister Rehman Malik told local media that he would invite home minister Palaniappan Chidambaram to watch one of the proposed hockey matches in Pakistan.
“We are considering a three-match friendly hockey series between the two countries in order to revive sporting ties with our neighbours,” Malik was quoted as saying by the Dawn newspaper.
“I have directed the interior secretary Qamar-uz-Zaman Chaudhry to ensure the best-possible security arrangements are in place.”
The Pakistan hockey team toured New Delhi twice last year for the World Cup and the Commonwealth Games.