Former India opener Gautam Gambhir has said that India should be ready to even ‘forfeit’ the World Cup final later this year against Pakistan if both countries qualify for the clash. There have been widespread calls to boycott Pakistan in the upcoming World Cup in the wake of the Pulwama attack that claimed the lives of 44 CRPF personnels. The attack, which took place on February 14, was carried out by Pakistan-based militancy group Jaish-e-Mohammed.

The BCCI had already made a formal request to the ICC to ask its members to “sever ties with nations” that harbour terrorists. Before that,  IMG-Reliance had pulled out of its deal to produce television coverage of the Pakistan Super League worldwide.  while DSport, which was broadcasting the game in India, had also stopped the coverage. In other show of protests, several cricketing bodies had removed the pictures of Pakistani players from their premises.

India and Pakistan are set to lock horns in the marquee clash on June 16 in Manchester. As of now, nothing is clear and the government of India is likely to take a final call on the matter.

(Credits: AP)

However, Gautam Gambhir thinks India should boycott Pakistan even if it means losing the World Cup.

“This (playing Pakistan in World Cup) is what BCCI needs to decide and I have always maintained there can’t be conditional bans,” Gambhir said.

“Either you don’t play them anywhere or open doors for them. What happened in Pulwama is absolutely not acceptable. I am sure it’s going to be difficult to boycott Pakistan in World Cup but they are not playing them in bilateral. The best they can do is to stop playing in Asia Cup as well, that’s what I believe.

“All of us need to decide if sports is more important or lives are more important. If India have to face backlash of international sporting federations, I am all for it. But there should not be conditional bans, I have maintained this. Country is far more important than Bollywood, sports, art or culture if we have to face that backlash, they should be absolutely ready to do that,” added Gambhir who recently received the prestigious Padma Shri award.

India and Pakistan last played a bilateral series in 2012 (Credits: AFP)

Meanwhile, India skipper Virat Kohli and head coach Ravi Shastri have made it clear that the team will fully support the government’s decision on the matter. The World Cup will get underway on May 30 with hosts England taking on South Africa in the opener. India will open their campaign against South Africa on June 5.