“The government has nothing to do with IPL [Indian Premier League] or the selection of players and various exercises that are connected with it,” External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna said here on Thursday.

He was replying to a question about a Pakistani Minister’s observation that the rejection of cricket players from his country was done at the behest of the Indian government and showed that New Delhi was not serious about the peace process.

“Pakistan will have to draw a line between where the Government of India is connected and where the Government of India is an actor,” Mr. Krishna said.

The Foreign Office came out with a detailed response, and asked Pakistan to introspect on the reasons which have put a strain on bilateral ties.

It debunked reports that apprehensions of unavailability of visas were the prime reason for the IPL franchisees not showing interest in Pakistani cricketers. “Such [an] apprehension is completely misplaced. Seventeen Pakistani cricketers were issued Indian visas at very short notice in December 2009 and January 2010 to participate in IPL 2010. Two visas were issued in Islamabad, while three were issued in Wellington [New Zealand] and 12 in Sydney [Australia], where the Pakistani cricketers had applied while touring New Zealand and Australia respectively. Based on a request from the Pakistan Cricket Board to the High Commission of India in Islamabad, the Ministry of External Affairs facilitated necessary clearances from other Ministries of the Government of India,” said a Foreign Office statement.

Pointing out that Pakistani cricketers had not participated in IPL 2009 and only one of them took part in the Champions League T20 tournament held here in October last, the Foreign Office said the participation or absence of Pakistani cricketers in a commercial event of the nature of IPL is “a matter not within the purview of the government.”

“Blaming the government for the absence of Pakistani players from the next edition of IPL is unfortunate. Pakistan should introspect on the reasons which have put a strain on relations between India and Pakistan, and have adversely impacted on peace, stability and prosperity in the region,” the statement said.

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