ISLAMABAD - As Pakistan prepares this week to host Zimbabwe for the first international cricketing event since 2009 in the country, Pakistani civil and military leadership have ruled out the possibility of “cricket diplomacy” with estranged neighbour India, The Nation has learnt.

Last week, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had indicated that India was willing to improve bilateral ties via ‘cricket diplomacy’, according to a news report in India Today.

While there has been no official Indian confirmation of Mr Modi’s statement, the prospect has already received a cold response from Pakistani officials.

In recent weeks, there has been an unprecedented flurry of Pakistani statements against the alleged involvement of Indian spy agency, Research & Analysis Wing, or RAW, in terror attacks inside the country.

A meeting of Pak military’s corps commanders on May 5 accused RAW of whipping up terrorism inside Pakistan. It was the first time that the Pakistani military had made such a claim through an official forum. Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry, the foreign secretary, also echoed the military’s allegations last week.

And, on Sunday, Syed Qaim Ali Shah, during a press conference in Karachi, also claimed that evidence of the Indian spy agency’s involvement in recent terror attacks have been detected by law enforcing agencies.

“Normally, cricket diplomacy works for Pakistan and India but if RAW continues to carry out terrorism in Pakistan, cricket may not be enough,” a senior cabinet member told The Nation.

The influential minister said, “You can recall how they cut cricketing ties with us over speculations. So, why can’t we say no to them when we have evidences of RAW involvement in bloodshed in our country.”

The announcement by Indian Prime Minister Modi regarding cricket between both sides was initially welcomed in Pakistan.

After all, cricket has been used to dispel tensions between the two nuclear-armed neighbours in the past. In 1987, President Mohammad Ziaul Haq of Pakistan flew to India unannounced to attend a cricket match after a massive Indian military exercise in Rajhastan, India, prompted fears of an impending military attack inside Pakistan. The visit led to the coinage of the term ‘cricket diplomacy.’

The attack on an Ismailis bus in Karachi last week has, however, spoiled any chances of revival of cricket diplomacy when initial investigations pointed to RAW’s involvement in the attack, officials here say.

After Wednesday’s carnage in Karachi, Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry repeated the claims that RAW was involved in terror acts in Pakistan.

The secretary said the Indian government had already been informed about the interference of RAW in the territory of Pakistan along with “factual evidence.”

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif also raised this issue during his recent visit to Afghanistan and asked them to refrain from allowing anyone to use Afghan territory against Pakistan, officials say.

Defence analyst Lt General Amjed Shoaib (retd) said that India had been trying to destabilise Pakistan for a long time.

“India’s attempts to create troubles for Pakistan increased after Islamabad conducted nuclear tests in order to develop its deterrence capability. India then realised that it cannot fight a war with Pakistan and therefore resorted to a proxy war in Balochistan, tribal areas and other areas of the country,” he said.

Lt General Shoaib added, “We have certain evidence of RAW’s involvement in terrorist activities. The PM and the Chief of Army Staff have recently met the President of Afghanistan and provided him the evidence regarding RAW’s involvement in terrorist activities in Pakistan using Afghan territory.”

Defence analyst Major Gen Athar Abbas (retd) said that PM Sharif and Army Chief Raheel Sharif’s recent visit to Afghanistan was aimed at giving a warning to Taliban to desist from their illegal activities and also to seek cooperation of Kabul in the war against terrorism.

In the current vitiated atmosphere, the cricket obsessed fans of both countries will have to wait much longer to see their players pitched against one another on the field.

“We can tell them (Indians) that we can live without cricket,” the senior cabinet member said.