Former Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf today welcomed Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s invitation to his his Pakistani counterpart to watch the Indo-Pak World Cup semi-final match but said that cricket diplomacy cannot lead to resolution of disputes. “I think it is an opportunity. Certainly,” said Musharraf who is currently in a self-imposed exile, explaining that cricket diplomacy has two benefits. “Firstly, I think it can be used as an ice-breaker in case the two opposing groups’ leadership is not in touch with each other. Secondly when they meet, it improves the environment of discussion because they have a better understanding of each other because I have personally believed that inter-state relations have much to do with inter-personal relations.”
In a goodwill gesture, Singh had last week invited Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani to watch the high voltage World Cup semi-final match between the two countries together in Mohali. Saying that it was a “correct action” of inviting Gilani, Musharraf told Times Now that cricket diplomacy develops personal relations.
However, he threw in a word of caution. “But if we think that it will lead to resolution of dispute, that is another issue. It facilitates resolution. It does not lead to resolution. Cricket diplomacy does not mean that you can resolve disputes just because you attended a match together,” he said. He said cricket diplomacy only develops understanding between two leaders and that is exactly what happened when he went to watch cricket match in India. “There was better understanding between me and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, certainly, which we took forward,” he said. He said the motive behind Singh’s invitation was friendliness.
Musharraf also said it was a wrong perception that it is the ISI or the Army that runs the government. “Government is run by a person who heads the cabinet because all decisions are taken in the cabinet. I don’t think I as DG ISI or Army chief attended the cabinet meeting…That is not done.”