Friday, 25 March 2011, 23:15 IST
New Delhi: In a replay of cricket diplomacy that could help resume their stalled peace process, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Friday invited Pakistani leaders Asif Ali Zardari and Yusuf Raza Gilani to see the India-Pakistan World Cup semi-final at Mohali March 30 — the first cricket clash between them after the 2008 Mumbai terror attack.
India is also offering 5,000 visas to Pakistani fans to watch the match at the Punjab Cricket Association stadium in Mohali.
In a statement, Zardari welcomed the invite, but noted that the final decision will be taken after the Pakistani prime minister returns from his official visit to Uzbekistan Sunday.
“It gives me great pleasure to invite you to visit Mohali (in Punjab) and join me and millions of fans from our two countries to watch the match,” Manmohan Singh wrote in identical letters to both Pakistani leaders, delivered through the Pakistan High Commission.
Manmohan Singh said he and his wife Gursharan Kaur will also be at the match venue.
“I propose to be at Mohali to watch the World Cup semi-final match between India and Pakistan… There is huge excitement over the match and we are all looking forward to a great game of cricket, that will be a victory for sport,” the letter said.
Billed as the game of the 2011 World Cup, bitter rivals and cricket-mad nations India and Pakistan will fight March 30 for a place in the final. Both countries have not played each other since the Mumbai terror attack of 2008.