Sunil Gavaskar reached out to Imran Khan through India Today and asked the Pakistan Prime Minister to take the first few friendly steps after the Pulwama terror attack killed 40 CRPF soldiers on February 14. Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad claimed responsibility for the ghastly attack.
Gavaskar said he wants Imran Khan as the Pakistan PM to take the first friendly steps and ensure perpetrators of terror are handed over to the United Nations. Harbhajan Singh, another India cricket legend, said he wanted India to boycott Pakistan in the World Cup but Gavaskar chose to reach out to his old friend Imran Khan.
“I don’t want to react to what these young players have suggested but if I may speak directly – Imran, when you took over, you said it was going to be a new Pakistan,” Gavaskar told India Today.
“You said India should take one step and Pakistan will take two steps. I want to say that Pakistan should be the one to take the first step. You ensure that those in Pakistan creating problems – maybe to the United Nations.
“You take those two friendly steps and then see the many steps India will take. I am no politician. You are my friend, Wasim is my friend, Shoaib Akhtar is my friend. You take that first step. Let old Pakistan stay. You take that first step, and then see the number of friendly steps India will take.
“If he takes those first steps, it’s a Naya Pakistan. Hand over those responsible for the attacks, stop cross-border infiltration. You see then how many steps India will take. But I am not a politician, I am a sportsperson. But I am sure people in India will appreciate.
“The first friendly steps.. if Imran takes those steps, you will see the steps India will take. I am sure the people of India will appreciate. Imran has spent a lot of time in India – as a cricketer, as a friendly visitor to the India and he knows the Indian people more than any other (Pakistani) prime minister.
“I am not asking for words, I am asking for action to be taken,” Gavaskar said.
Sunil Gavaskar said he was not sure Imran Khan would even hear what he said but added he was prepared to wait.
“That is to be seen – I have said what I have directly to Imran and am not even sure if he is even going to see this. But I have said what I had to through your forum, so now let’s just wait and see,” Gavaskar said.
“I listened to him when he told me not to retire, I hope he listens to me. He told me “when I am going to retire in England,”he told me not to. He told me Pakistan are coming to India and Pakistan wants to beat India and it won’t be the same without you. But that was on the field. This is completely different. This touches a lot, lot more lives than a game cricket.
“Well, I have not met him since he became prime minister. Once he sets his mind to do and achieve something, he invariably tries to get there. He is driven towards creating a Naya Pakistan. For Naya Pakistan to flourish, friendly ties with Pakistan is absolutely essential,” Gavaskar concluded.
Sources have confirmed to India Today that CoA chief Vinod Rai has asked BCCI CEO Rahul Johri to write a letter to ICC asking the world governing body to keep Pakistan out of the World Cup.
Last week, Harbhajan Singh had told India Today that India should not play their World Cup match against Pakistan. On Wednesday, Harbjajan Singh and Mohammad Azharuddin said the World Cup wasn’t bigger than the country and India should indeed boycott Pakistan in the tournament.
“The simple thing is.. what’s more important? Does the country come first or does India come first? Keep sports aside,” Harbhajan told Aaj Tak. “First, let us sort out the other issues.
“World Cup is very small when it comes to the country. 40 people who have lost their lives. Who is going to pay for that? We have to stand united with the country. Even if we don’t play the 2019 World Cup, it won’t matter,” he said.