New Delhi - The BCCI will need approval from the Indian government before it can play Pakistan in a bilateral series, according secretary Amitabh Choudhary, no matter what the nature of its agreement with the PCB.

The Pakistan board had sent the BCCI a notice under the ICC Dispute Resolution Committee's terms of reference last week for not fulfilling its commitment according to an MoU, which the PCB said was signed in 2014. The BCCI, however, indicated that the MoU was in fact "just a letter" and not a formal "contract", but said it wanted to fulfil the commitment because it was written with the intent to do so, provided the government gave the go-ahead.

India and Pakistan have not played a full series - apart from two T20Is and three ODIs in 2012 - since the 2008 attacks in Mumbai, which the Indian government blamed on terrorists based out of Pakistan. Political relations between the countries remain strained as of today. "I can assure you that this is a subject where the government has to accord permission," Choudhary said. "I must inform you that the BCCI has already written to the government in March with regard to the FTP with Pakistan. Unless we hear from them, I cannot make a comment. As far as cricket concerned, if it is a contract, both would try to honour."

When asked if the MoU could be revoked in the absence of government permission, Choudhary said: "I don't remember the exact wordings but it is inherent. Honouring of it cannot happen without the government's permission. In any case it was just a communication, it was just a letter from the secretary of BCCI. So it is not a formal contract as yet." The BCCI secretary at that time was Sanjay Patel, who could not be reached for a comment.

Rajeev Shukla, the IPL chairman and a former board vice-president, said that the BCCI would not want to play the series at a neutral venue though. "We have had a consistent policy that we will play on each other's soil," Shukla said.

"Pakistan's security situation is not such where you can have a series on their soil. Only Zimbabwe has played a series and no other countries are touring Pakistan. They are not being able to provide adequate security. First you make your venues such where you can provide fool-proof security. And for India, the security concerns are even more. How can we risk our players?"

The PCB's position, however, is that it must host the first series between Pakistan and India, as stated in the MoU. The PCB has hosted its home series largely in the UAE ever since the Sri Lankan team was attacked by gunmen in Lahore during their 2009 tour of Pakistan.

When told that India had played West Indies at a neutral venue - Florida - recently, Shukla said those T20Is were a home series for India, and the BCCI had staged the games in the USA to explore a new market. "That was done on mutual consent," he said. "We were exploring the US market. It was our series. It's not as if we couldn't play in West Indies and hence played in the US."