South Asia

Cricket World Cup: Pakistan PM accepts cricket invite

Indian fans celebrate the victory of their team over Australia in the ICC Cricket World Cup quarter-final match, in Kolkata, India, Thursday, March 24, 2011
Image caption India defeated Australia to make their way into the semi-final

Pakistani PM Yousuf Raza Gilani has accepted an invitation from his Indian counterpart, Manmohan Singh, to attend the Cricket World Cup semi-final between the countries on Wednesday.

The match, in the northern Indian city of Mohali, has created huge interest on both sides of the border.

Relations between India and Pakistan have been badly strained since the Mumbai attacks of 2008.

Then, more than 170 people were killed by Pakistan-based militants.

The nuclear-armed rivals have met a number of times over the past year and Pakistan's foreign minister is scheduled to visit India by July to discuss the resumption of peace talks.

Heavy security is already in place for the match but this was stepped up after police said on Thursday they had arrested a man they believed was planning an attack during the World Cup.

Across India and Pakistan there is a scramble for tickets for next week's match, the BBC's Sanjoy Majumder in Delhi says.

India has issued 5,000 visas to Pakistanis with confirmed tickets and the government is under pressure to ease restrictions and allow more people in from across the border.

Image caption Pakistan trounced the West Indies to reach the semi-final

Before the Mumbai attacks, the two sides held formal peace talks known as a "composite dialogue" for several years but made little headway, apart from a number of confidence-building measures.

The main disputes between the two sides centre on counter-terrorism and the Himalayan territory of Kashmir - which both countries claim. There are also a number of economic issues and smaller territorial disagreements which divide the sides.

Talks ended in acrimony last July with the two sides in a public spat over Kashmir.

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