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    PCB chief hopeful of resuming ties with India

    Lahore: Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Zaka Ashraf remains positive about reviving bilateral cricket ties with India, following President Asif Ali Zardari's weekend trip to New Delhi. India stalled cricket ties with Pakistan in the wake of the Mumbai terror attacks in November 2008.

    "I am positive about it because I had a good meeting with the BCCI president N Srinivasan in Dubai last week and he also had an encouraging response on [the] resumption of bilateral ties," Ashraf told a press conference in Lahore on Wednesday. "I am hopeful that India will soon agree to resume bilateral ties, which are so important for both the nations."

    Last week, BCCI vice-president Rajeev Shukla made it clear that India would play Pakistan only at home or in Pakistan, but not at a neutral venue. He also said that the participation of Pakistani players in the Indian Premier League was linked to the resumption of cricket ties between the two countries.

    Ashraf came in for criticism two months back after he gave a statement stating that India had avoided playing Pakistan because of the poor form of their team and that they were scared of losing. But now the PCB chief sounded positive about ties with India. "Indo-Pak ties are very important in many ways as people of both countries want to watch their teams play against each other. President Zardari's visit will serve as an ice-breaker and lead to positive developments."

    Speaking about Bangladesh's impending tour to Lahore to play a one-day international and a Twenty20 in late April, Ashraf said the board would organise the series without any security concerns. "What happened in 2009 was very tragic for Pakistan and Pakistan cricket but since then the security situation has improved in the country. I am sure that after Bangladesh other teams can also be convinced to come and play in our country," he said.

    No foreign team has visited Pakistan since 2009, when militants attacked the bus carrying the Sri Lankan team in Lahore, killing six Pakistani policemen and a van driver while some of the visiting players were also injured in the gunfire.

    Ashraf said the PCB would always remain thankful to Bangladesh board for its support at a critical time. "They came to help us at a time when we are facing a big problem of having no international cricket at home. We will ensure the best possible security plan for them." Ashraf sounded confident that the ICC would approve the security plan for the series sent by the PCB and appoint its own match officials for the two matches.

    He also insisted that Pakistan is now a safe country to host international matches. "For the last six months, we have been trying to convince the Bangladesh board to send their team. This tour should break the ice."