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Friday, March 25, 2011

Jitters in India over Pakistan`s World Cup Prospects

NEW DELHI: An India-Pakistan semi-final in Mohali now looks set to be the highpoint of the current cricket World Cup but the possibility of Pakistan going on to play the finals in Mumbai is giving nightmares to the Indian security apparatus, the Indian Express said on Thursday.
“Pakistan’s successful run in the ongoing Cricket World Cup has given fresh jitters to India that now anticipates a deluge of visa applications, over and above the 5,000 already processed,” the newspaper said.

It said Pakistan’s High Commissioner Shahid Malik, who met Indian Home Secretary G. K. Pillai on Monday, apparently told him that with the possibility of Pakistan reaching the semi-finals and final of the World Cup fairly high, India must be ready to stamp close to 5,000 more visas of Pakistani fans.
With an India and Pakistan match now confirmed in Mohali for March 30, problems for the security arrangement will be determined by the outcome.
If Pakistan manage to beat India in Mohali and proceed to Mumbai for the finals, it would be their first game in the city since 1989 when they played Australia in the MRF series.
Shiv Sena factor
“But what bothers the Home Ministry and security agencies is Mumbai as venue, where memories of 26/11 terror attacks are still fresh and the terror threat from the Lashkar-e-Taiba looms large,” the Indian Express said.
The danger of the fanatical Shiv Sena creating ugly scenes and bringing the city to a halt, also could not be taken lightly, it quoted sources as saying.
“While the Home Ministry is not worried about the semi-finals in Mohali which is close to Attari-Wagah border, and arrangements can be made for fans to come through the border point at Wagah via special buses, Mumbai has posed a real challenge,” according to the Express.
“The Home Ministry in consultation with the Ministry of External Affairs has decided that the 45-day application period required would be waived off, but has dismissed the suggestion from Islamabad that fans be allowed to reach Mumbai by Samjhauta Express train via Attari border.”
A government source told the Express that there were “other easier ways of reaching Mumbai, say by flight or by the sea”.
As enough flights cannot be arranged and possibility of getting a special trainload from Attari has been ruled out, a short ship voyage from Karachi to Mumbai is being seen as a possibility, the report said.

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