Former Pakistan wicketkeeper-batsman Rashid Latif has made a sensational claim. Speaking to a newspaper, he said that Indian cricket team's famous tour of Pakistan in 2004, which saw the two sides engaging in a 5-match ODI and 3-match Test series, only took place due to the perseverance of the then Indian captain Sourav Ganguly.
"In 2004, when the BCCI was reluctant to tour Pakistan, it was (Sourav) Ganguly, who persuaded the BCCI and players. It was a highly memorable tour for India as they managed to win big here after a long gap," Latif said in his interview.
The reason why the veteran Pakistani cricketer brought up the issue right now was to suggest that the same person – Ganguly – now serving as the president of Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), can again help revive the cricketing relations between the two nations.
"As a cricketer and BCCI President, Ganguly can help (Ehsan) Mani and the PCB. Unless full-fledged Pakistan-India bilateral series resumes, things won't improve for both countries. The world wants to see Pak-India playing cricket. PCB CEO Wasim Khan should also play his active part to ensure top cricket-playing nations come and tour Pakistan as it will help Pakistan cricket and local players," Latif told The Nation.
This optimism of the former wicketkeeper and now a prominent cricket pundit on his country's television is quite far-fetched. He has forgotten that at the time of India's 2004 tour of Pakistan, relations between the two countries were on a firm footing. The entire tour was billed as a goodwill visit by the Indian team to the neighbouring nation.
At the present moment, the relations are quite strained. The Indian public is still seething at the Pakistan sponsored terrorist acts committed last year and the Islamic Republic, on its part, is trying its best to create an international opprobrium against Indian government's decision to remove Article 370 from the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
Recently, the Pakistan government tried to persuade the Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC) to hold a special session on the situation in Kashmir. However, due to the deft diplomacy by Indian government, that session is now unlikely to take place.
However, the implacable hostility between the two countries remains as it was through the last year. On it's part, Pakistan successfully hosted Sri Lanka for the first full tour by a top cricket playing nation since the 2009 attack on the Sri Lankan team. To expect India to make a visit now is delusionary to say the least.