Pakistani prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Monday feted the national cricket team which reached the semifinals of the World Cup, honouring them with cash awards and praise.
Pakistan lost to arch-rivals and co-hosts India in the semifinal at Mohali last month, but Gilani said the team had won many hearts and were able to help efforts to normalise relations between the South Asian nuclear rivals.
“I praise the team’s manners, and although Pakistan lost the semifinal they won hearts,” Gilani said in his speech.
“Because of this match, both the countries have been able to start the process of bringing our relationship onto the right track.”
Gilani and his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh watched the match together in the stands, in a display of ‘cricket diplomacy’ that was the first time a Pakistani leader has visited India since 2001.
Gilani announced cash awards of one million rupees ($11,750) for each playing member and half a million rupees ($5,850) for management staff.
“Despite a lot of problems faced by the team I think they performed very well and have made us proud. I hope they will keep doing that in future,” he said.