India to issue 3,000 visas to Pakistan cricket fans

The Indian government is to issue a record 3,000 visas to Pakistani cricket fans attending a series of limited over matches beginning next month, an official in the interior ministry told AFP Thursday.

"We will happily host 3,000 Pakistani cricket lovers for the matches. This is the first time that we have decided to issue so many visas in one go," the source told AFP on condition of anonymity.

India is to host Pakistan for two T20 internationals and three 50 over matches from December 25, beginning in Bangalore. Matches are also due to be held in Ahmedabad, Chennai, Kolkata and New Delhi which will host the last game on January 6.

"One thousand Pakistanis will be able to watch the Delhi match and 500 will be allowed to attend each of the other games," said the official.

"The BCCI (Indian cricket board) will be given all the necessary instructions to speed up the visa process."

The rivals have not played a series since Pakistan's tour of India in 2007, after cricket ties were broken following the 2008 attacks in Mumbai by militants from Pakistan.

The countries -- where cricket is hugely popular -- have fought three wars since independence in 1947.

The Indian and Pakistani cricket teams have met in international tournaments since 2007 including a semi-final in last year's ODI World Cup.

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