Pakistan and India build bridges through rugby
October 5, 2013
India players practise ahead of their match against Pakistan, both teams vowing to promote peace through sports © Getty Images
Arch-rivals India and Pakistan are to play a rugby match Saturday, with officials and captains vowing to promote peace through sports.
It will be a rare sporting event between the South Asian nuclear rivals. New Delhi had stalled bilateral sporting relations in the wake of 2008 terrorist attacks on Mumbai, which India blamed on militants based in Pakistan.
Pakistan's cricket team did play a short limited over series in India earlier this year - their first since 2007 - but that proved to be a one-off, as heightening tensions on the Line of Control in the disputed Kashmir region derailed the peace process. But Indian rugby team manager Kulvinder Singh said the match will be the first step towards peace.
"I am happy that kids of below 19 years are starting this," Singh told AFP. "I wish the oneness back between us and that we give a message of peace to New Delhi and Islamabad." Singh said he feels Pakistan is his second home. His mother came from Faisalabad and his father from Rawalpindi before the partition in 1947.
"I came here as a player in 1999 and now as a manager and have always felt at ease, got so much love and warmth that I feel at home," he said. "I know there are so many derailments but I am sure Pakistan will take India as its brother and India would feel the same way," said Singh. Indian captain Suraj Veer said he felt no problems in Lahore. "It's a wonderful feeling to be in Lahore and the affection is memorable," Veer said.
A Pakistan rugby team is also due to tour Mumbai next week to feature in the Asian Sevens, to be contested by 16 countries.
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