New Delhi - Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj has said that any bilateral cricket series between India and Pakistan is unlikely unless Pakistan stops cross-border terrorism and firing.

Sushma said this to Parliament's consultative committee on external affairs during a meeting, which was also attended by Minister of State for External Affairs MJ Akbar and Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar. During the meeting, Sushma also said that she had met Pakistan's envoy to India and proposed to him that both countries release the prisoners who are above 70 years of age or women or of unsound mind as part of humanitarian aspect of the relationship, a member who was present in the meeting said.

The agenda of the meeting was 'Relationship with the Neighbourhood'. Responding to a query on India-Pakistan cricket series on a neutral venue, the external affairs minister hinted that it seemed unlikely until Pakistan stopped cross-border terrorism and firing, the member said.

She clarified that terrorism and cricket can't go hand in hand, the member said. Members also sought to know from the ministry various aspects of the recent Maldives-China Free Trade Agreement and increasing proximity between the two nations and its impact on India. The ministry in its reply said that the relationship between India and Maldives remained close and cordial. It also mentioned about the increasing defence cooperation between the two nations.

Due to political tensions, the two arch-rivals haven't faced each other in a bilateral cricket series since Pakistan's tour of India during the 2012-13 season. Meanwhile, the 2005-06 series remains India's last visit of Pakistan, with the Men in Blue failing to honour at least two bilateral series despite the existence of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the two countries' cricket boards.

The Indian minister, speaking on the issue of tension along the LoC, said that 800 cross-border violations took place in 2017. Swaraj's remarks would not bring any joy for the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) which, in November, sent a legal notice to its Indian counterpart, the Board of Control for Cricket in India, seeking up to $70 million in damages for failing to play two contractually agreed upon bilateral series.

Earlier, PCB chairman Najam Sethi stressed upon the importance — both financial and otherwise — of Indo-Pak cricket series, urging the two countries to set aside their political differences for the sake of the game. "It is absolutely vital that the two countries play against each other," he said in the interview. "There is no doubt that India-Pakistan is the most exciting series, much ahead of the Ashes. It is also important, both, in terms of eyeballs and financial health of the two boards."