Former Pakistan pacer Shoaib Akhtar had his say on the much talked about issue of India not playing Pakistan in the 2019 World Cup on June 16 in Manchester on Thursday.
Following the terror attack in Jammu & Kashmir's Pulwama district last week in which 40 CRPF jawans were killed, Indians including former cricketers have asked the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to boycott Pakistan in the World Cup to send out a strong message.
And, on Thursday, Akhtar felt that if India think that is the way forward, they are well within their rights to do so.
"The series would have a monetary value of 600 million dollars. Do you think they don't? Of course, they want that. Now speaking on part of their argument, they want to play with Pakistan. Our Pakistan board had mentioned that they want to play a bilateral series and you cannot deny it although the series can be held at a different venue altogether. But they have said that they have a board to run which falls under Supreme Court. That is their argument and that is logical," Shoaib Akhtar was quoted as saying by Times Now.
He also said that during such situations, it is not mandatory to keep politics out of sports.
"Should sports stay political? Not at all. So these differences set in matters of circumstances. We strongly condemn the loss of lives. But when it comes to our country, we are one nation, united and we will stand by our Prime Minister's statement without having a second thought. They have a right to pull out. Their country was attacked and hence the decision. You cannot argue on that?
"Our forte is to talk about cricket and not about the political scene. When such things happen, try to create bridges as a cricketer. It is very important as players to talk about things that bring about unity rather than antagonising the situation," the right-arm fast bowler said.
However, if India indeed decide to do so, they could face some harsh punishment.
"Government should advice the BCCI as every tournament has its own rules. Since a lot of countries would be participating (ICC members), we might have to face consequences, bear the losses or face two or three year ban if India withdraws or does not play against Pakistan," former India cricketer Chetan Chauhan told ANI.
The World Cup is scheduled to begin May 30 in England. Chauhan is, however, adamant that India should launch protest one way or another but work according to what government decides.
"Had it been in Pakistan, I would have readily said not to play or had it been in India, I would have said do not call Pakistan in the wake of attack on our soldiers. But the tournament will be hosted in England and world cup is something which is decided eight or ten years in advance," he said.
There have also been calls of India trying to oust Pakistan from the World Cup completely but there are no such rules in the cricket body's constitution.
"There is absolutely no constitutional or contractual way this could happen. The ICC constitution allows members the right to participate in ICC event as long as they have qualified," a top BCCI official told PTI.