`Pak should send cultural delegation to India`

Updated: Mar 27, 2011, 15:24 PM IST

Karachi: Lauding Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for inviting his Pakistan counterpart for the World Cup clash between the two countries` cricket teams, former captain Javed Miandad said his nation should send a delegation of sportsmen and artistes for the much-anticipated match.

"I think it is a very good opportunity for us to take advantage of the invitation by Manmohan Singh and we should send a delegation including our former great sportsmen and women and some people from the entertainment industry as a gesture of goodwill towards Indian people," Miandad said on today.

"It is a very positive gesture and I have always believed that people in both countries want to have friendlier ties and more understanding but at times the circumstances have dictated something else," he said.

Miandad, who now works as Director General (cricket) in the Pakistan Cricket Board, has always been a strong advocate of improving ties between the two countries.

Having toured India several times as player and coach, Miandad said he knew that if such a delegation goes to India it would make a positive impact.

"The government should include former greats like Zaheer Abbas, Hanif Muhammad, Majid Khan, Jahangir Khan, Islahuddin Siddiqui, Samiullah, Jahangir Khan, Jansher Khan, Naseem Hameed who are all well known in India," he said.

"The delegation should also have some personalities like Umar Sharif, Reema, Shaan etc from the entertainment industry so that they can act as goodwill ambassadors in India during the semi final," he said.

He said while he had nothing against sending politicians to India in an official delegation but sending sportsmen and entertainment industry people would allow for more people to people contact.

He pointed out that cricket had once again played a role in bridging the gap between the two countries and improving bilateral ties.

"Cricket is something that is a passion in both countries and it can be used as a very positive tool to improve relations and remove misunderstandings," Miandad said.

He said even the presence of someone like Imran Khan in India was a good advertisement for Pakistan and its cricket and country.

"Imran is very popular in India and I am sure his presence can improve people to people contact."

On the semifinal itself, Miandad said as a Pakistani he wanted his country to win.

"But Shahid Afridi and his men will have to play with lot of unity and withstand a lot of pressure to win the match and they are capable of doing this," he said.