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Pakistan anger over 'humiliating exclusion' from IPL

Shahid Afridi
The exclusion of Pakistani players was a surprise

A Pakistani parliamentary delegation has cancelled a visit to India amid a growing diplomatic row over the next Indian Premier League (IPL) tournament.

At an auction earlier this week no Pakistani players were chosen to play in the Twenty20 competition in March amid fears they may not get visas.

Ministers and cricketers alike say the outcome was an insult and there were calls to boycott sport ties with India.

Pakistan are the current T20 world cricketing champions.

One Pakistani opposition leader said he was withdrawing from the MPs' trip as Pakistani stars had been "humiliated".

In response the Indian government says the decision not to pick any Pakistani players was made by the IPL teams, and was not politically inspired.

Relations between the two countries have been strained since the 2008 attack on Mumbai (Bombay), which India blamed on Pakistan-based militants. At least 174 people were killed, nine of them gunmen.

Call for ban

The row began after there were no bids for 11 Pakistani players - despite their star status - at IPL auctions for foreign players in Mumbai (Bombay) on Tuesday.

"I want to make it clear that whether it is India or any other country in the world, their citizens would have to face [the] same behaviour as meted out to our people," Pakistan's Interior Minister Rehman Malik told the state-run Associated Press of Pakistan news agency.

A spokesman for the opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Ayaz Amir, was quoted in Dawn newspaper as saying his party would not join any delegation "until India changes its attitude".

He called for a Pakistani ban on any "sports interaction" with India and a "complete ban" on showing Indian films in Pakistan.

Veteran cricketer Zaheer Abbas also called for a ban on any sporting links with India in an interview with Geo TV.

Pakistan's Sports Minister, Ejaz Jakhrani, told APP he had no plans for such a move.

Correspondents say that while there is no sign yet that this year's Commonwealth Games and hockey world cup in India will be jeopardised - political and sporting relations between the two countries have recently taken a turn for the worse.

The BBC's Prachi Pinglay in Mumbai says the fact there were no bids for Pakistani players in the IPL was a major surprise, especially because Pakistani batsman Shahid Afridi is currently one of the best T20 players in the world.

The Indian government has denied it put pressure on IPL clubs not to sign Pakistani players - it says that their exclusion was solely the decision of the clubs concerned.

A foreign ministry statement in Delhi also suggested that Pakistan should reflect on events which have put a strain on bilateral relations in the first place, and have had an adverse impact on peace and stability throughout the region.

Pakistan's cricketers played in the first IPL tournament in 2008, but were not allowed by Islamabad to travel last year due to the tensions after the Mumbai attacks.



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