Gilani might accept invite for Indo-Pak S/F

Updated: Mar 26, 2011, 13:03 PM IST

Islamabad: Pakistan is yet to decide on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh`s invitation to its leaders for the cricket World Cup semi-final in Mohali, though indications are that Premier Yousuf Raza Gilani may accept it.

Pakistani officials have dismissed reports that Prime Minister Gilani has already accepted his Indian counterpart`s invitation to watch the semi-final match between the cricket teams of the two countries, saying a decision would be made when the premier returns from a visit to Uzbekistan.

But, official sources told reporters it was likely that Pakistan will accept the invitation though only Gilani is expected to go to Mohali to watch the historic match that will showcase one of the world`s most intense sporting rivalries.

A top aide of Gilani who was with him in Tashkent denied a claim by TV channels that the premier had already accepted the invitation extended by Singh yesterday. Consultations were being held with the Foreign Office about a response, he told the Dawn newspaper.

"We have asked for details and serious consideration will be given to it once we return to Pakistan," the official said.

Singh yesterday invited both Gilani and President Asif Ali Zardari to watch the semi-final to be played at Mohali on March 30.

Presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar told reporters that Pakistan welcomed the invitation and would make a decision after Gilani returns to Islamabad.

Gilani was scheduled to return yesterday but his flight was cancelled because of bad weather over Himalayas. He is expected to be back in the federal capital later today. When Gilani was informed about his Indian counterpart`s invitation yesterday evening while visiting a university campus in Uzbekistan, he responded with a broad smile and said it was an "interesting gesture", media reports said.

The premier held discussions on the Indian invitation with senior officials of the Foreign Office and Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar, who were with him in Uzbekistan, the media reports said.