NEW DELHI - Fresh from witnessing Pakistan’s 328-run Test victory over Bangladesh in Dhaka, Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Shaharyar Khan made a stopover in Kolkata for a meeting with Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) president Jagmohan Dalmiya on Sunday. It was billed as a courtesy visit, but for the PCB chief, the trip held way more significance—the possibility of reviving bilateral cricketing ties between India and Pakistan.

How optimistic are you about the resumption of bilateral cricketing ties between India and Pakistan?

I am optimistic for two reasons. First, I have been assured by the BCCI president and International Cricket Council (ICC) chairman N. Srinivasan that they remain committed to the memorandum of understanding (MoU) that we’ve signed, in which we play five times in eight years, of which the first series will be hosted by Pakistan in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah in December this year. This is the agreement, this is the MoU, the word of honour that has been given to us. This is the first reason why we think we are on the right course, and they (Srinivasan and Dalmiya) very honestly and frankly told me that since this MoU was signed during the previous government, it is only right that they ask the present government for its green light. They had the green light earlier, but I accept that completely. The point to get over is the Indian government’s green light to hold this series, which will be held after a long time. The second reason is that a Pakistan-India series will have tremendous impact worldwide. I can give you an example: for the Adelaide India-Pakistan match in the 2015 World Cup, tickets were sold out entirely within 20 minutes. It just shows the worldwide interest for India-Pakistan cricket. I think it’s an important factor and both countries are aware of the importance of the series and, therefore, I am hopeful that we will get the green light and we will play the series.

How confident are you of a political clearance, given the sentiment that when it comes to India-Pakistan cricketing ties, every time you take a step forward, something happens and we’re back to square one?

Well, that is a political aspect that I feel should be separated from the cricketing aspect. There is Kashmir, there is Siachen, there is Sir Creek, there is trade, they are all issues between us. They are part of the political spectrum that we have to handle. I very much hope that those issues can be separated from people-to-people contacts at the sporting level—tennis matches, hockey matches, cricket matches. There is a security problem, not only for India but other countries coming to Pakistan. Let me tell you, and this is not known well in India, that the security situation in Pakistan is improving every day. Our armed forces have now rolled up their sleeves and are tackling the terrorist menace in Waziristan and elsewhere, and tackling it effectively. The result is that the security scenario in Pakistan has improved, but there is a problem. We know that India won’t come this year or next year, but maybe in the next two or three years, the situation will be such that the security problem can be overcome and the first step in this is that Zimbabwe is visiting us in a week’s time—the first full-member, Test-playing country to visit Pakistan. It is an important step forward.

You have also interacted with leaders and ministers of the Indian government. What was their response?

There are balanced, sensible people at the helm of affairs here, especially young people like Anurag Thakur. I hope they will appreciate what we’re trying to achieve. There’s a man who gets up in Parliament and makes a speech. That’s his democratic right, call it freedom of speech or what you like. But there’s the silent majority of people who want cricket to continue. Whenever we’ve played recently, it has been apolitical. There’s no longer the feeling of these contests between the two being “war minus the shooting”.

What about the state of cricket in Pakistan? Your team recently lost to Bangladesh in the one-dayers and struggled in the first Test...

You can say Pakistan cricket is at the crossroads, and we have entered a kind of trough in our ability to win matches, especially one-dayers. In Test matches, we are fine. We beat Australia last year in Tests, and that is something we are proud of. In Tests, we’ve been doing well; we just won the series in Bangladesh. What I am encouraged by is the fact that our young cricketers are very talented. I am also encouraged by the fact that recently, our batting has come up to expectations. We’ve put up big scores in Test matches. Over the years, batting has been a major weakness, and we are going to address the other weaknesses—fitness, fielding and internal programmes.

Fitness and fielding—they’ve been issues of concern for Pakistan over the years, haven’t they?

That’s something we can learn from India. The fact that Indian cricketers play a lot of Indian Premier League (IPL) matches and T20 cricket is a factor that helps them overcome fielding and fitness issues. All the Indian players are fit. Not just India. I have found that Bangladesh is very good too. We are lagging behind and I am going to set that right.

What are your hopes from the upcoming tour by Zimbabwe?

It’s a short tour. I am very confident that there will be no security lapse. Our boys are absolutely ready to receive the Zimbabwe team, to give them VVIP protection. Since we’ve been starved of cricket over the past six years, ever since the Sri Lanka episode of 2009, people are hungry for cricket in Pakistan. I think they will greatly appreciate Zimbabwe’s coming and there will be large crowds. I know there’s a great deal of interest already and that is good for Pakistan cricket: to play in front of your own people.

Over the past few years, there has been a lack of stability in Pakistan cricket...

There was no stability. There were changes with the chairmen—aaj ek, tomorrow there’s somebody else—that was not good. I am the first chairman to be elected, according to our new constitution. All previous chairmen were nominated. So, now there is stability, there is continuity, and I intend to maintain that. Every time we lose a match or a series, there are cries from our former cricketers, “Isko hatao”, change the selection committee, change this, change that. This is not my way. I will do it in a calm manner. No pushing the panic button. Whatever changes we bring, will be done after a great deal of thought and consideration. It won’t be knee-jerk, I can assure you.