India and Pakistan will play a cricket series for the first time since sporting ties were scrapped following the 2008 terrorist attack on Mumbai, building on a peace process that has already overhauled trade relations.
The nuclear-armed neighbors have agreed to play three one- day internationals in India in December and January, according to a statement from the Board of Control for Cricket in India. Further details will be announced later, the board said in the statement.
India’s decision to invite Pakistan for their first bilateral contest since 2007 comes after the two countries finalized the biggest ever dismantling of restrictions on business and investment. The U.S. has urged India and Pakistan to improve ties, concerned they may engage in a proxy war in nearby Afghanistan as American troops exit an 11-year war with the Taliban.
Cricket is the most popular sport in India and Pakistan, and the game has become intertwined with politics. In an act of so-called cricket diplomacy, the prime ministers of India and Pakistan watched their nations contest last year’s semi-final of the sport’s world cup.
India broke off talks with its neighbor after Pakistani militants killed 166 people in the attack on Mumbai. India says the strike was carried out by the Lashkar-e-Taiba guerrilla group with the support of some members of Pakistan’s security establishment. The government in New Delhi has criticized Pakistan for failing to prosecute those it holds responsible for the carnage in the nation’s financial capital.
After peace talks between India and Pakistan this month, Indian Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai said both countries wanted to improve sporting ties. The respective cricket boards would decide whether to resume matches, which would raise security concerns, he said.
Muslim Pakistan and predominantly Hindu India have fought three wars, two of them over their conflicting claims to the territory of Kashmir, since winning independence from Britain in 1947.
While India and England are due to play a series of test and one-day matches from Nov. 15 till Jan. 27, they have no games scheduled between Dec. 23 and Jan. 10. International teams stopped touring Pakistan after gunmen attacked the visiting Sri Lankan side in Lahore in 2009.
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