The relentless efforts of Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chief Shahryar Khan and Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) chairman Jagmohan Dalmiya to revive cricketing ties between the two countries suffered a major blow after the terror strike in Punjab's Gurdaspur district on 27 July.
India and Pakistan were scheduled to play three Tests, five ODIs and two T20s in a bilateral series scheduled for December this year. However, the recent attacks in Gurdaspur have forced the BCCI to postpone the highly-awaited series till further notice.
A group of four terrorists struck in Gurdaspur near the Pakistan border, killing eight individuals and wounding 10 others. Though all four terrorists were eventually killed after an 11-hour siege, the attack has reignited cross-border tensions between the two nations and it seems like cricket will once again bear the brunt.
Four suspected Pakistani terrorists were shot dead after they stormed a police station in Punjab's Gurdaspur district on 27 July. The terror attack, which began at 5.30 in the morning, lasted 11 hours leaving eight people dead and 10 injured. Senior police officer Baljit Singh was shot dead, apart from three security personnel and three civilians.
Investigations have revealed that the gunmen were Punjabi-speaking Muslims on a suicide mission with bodies shaven and all possibly identifying marks erased. However, the Global Positioning Sets (GPS) recovered with the bodies of the slain gunmen showed that they may have begun the operation from the Shakargarh area in Pakistan.
According to a report in the Indian Express, the GPS sets that were sent to Delhi for forensic analysis have revealed that the team of terrorists had left from a safehouse in Gharot, a village near Shakargarh in Pakistan, crossed a tributary of the Ravi river and then went to the village of Bamial in India.
Bilateral series between India and Pakistan
Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chief Shahryar Khan's visit to India in May earlier this year was aimed at boosting Pakistan's cricketing ties with its neighbour. The PCB chief held meetings with the BCCI chairman Jagmohan Dalmiya and board secretary Anurag Thakur.
The Indian cricket board and the PCB had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in 2014. According to the MoU, India and Pakistan are scheduled to play 12 Tests, 30 ODIs and 11 T20s as part of the six bilateral series over a span of eight years.
The first of the six bilateral series, scheduled for December this year, comprised three Tests, five ODIs and two T20s. However, the recent attacks in Gurdaspur forced the BCCI to postpone it.
Since 2007, India have not played a proper bilateral Test series with Pakistan mainly because of political reasons, particularly after the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks which led to the suspension of cricketing ties between the two nations.
The arch-rivals last played a bilateral series in December 2012-January 2013, when Pakistan toured India for a short series. The last time India toured Pakistan was in 2005-06 under the leadership of Rahul Dravid for three Tests and five ODIs.
BCCI's stand on the cricket series
In the wake of the Gurdaspur attacks, BCCI secretary Anurag Thakur said that cricket and terror cannot go hand in hand. He also said that the internal security of the country cannot be comprised, even though sport is a different issue.
"I condemn the terrorist attacks, specially in the Gurdaspur region. If you talk about cricket with Pakistan, we must understand that life of every Indian is very important to us. As the BCCI secretary and as a Parliamentarian, the life of every Indian is very important to me. It's not only about cricket, it's about my country," Thakur said.
Thakur made it clear that unless the situation improves, the two south Asian neighbours won't play cricket.
"I think the BCCI is correct in saying that terror will have to completely go before play can happen. Because as human beings we also want terror to completely go," former Indian captain Sourav Ganguly said, backing BCCI's decision.
"This has always been the case with an India-Pakistan series. As much as we understand that it is entertaining and it is a high-profile series, we cannot take away the sufferings which people go through at the border especially after what happened in Gurdaspur," he added.