Shaharyar Khan – “If they won’t give a public statement, then I see it’s very difficult to go to India” © AFP
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has threatened pulling out of the World Twenty20 if they did not get a clear message about the security situation from the Indian government. Shaharyar Khan, the PCB chairman, called for India to publicly acknowledge Pakistan’s participation in the tournament and to also promise full security to their cricket team.
Nisar Ali Khan, Pakistan’s interior minister, had initially granted the PCB permission to play in India, but the board has decided to put the visit on hold until they are guaranteed foolproof security. The PCB’s move was prompted after the Himachal Pradesh chief minister Virbhadra Singh had expressed his state government’s difficulty in providing security for the India-Pakistan clash in Dharamsala, on March 19.
“We have concerns and the threats are Pakistan-specific. Even now, the Himachal Pradesh chief minister has also said that they will not guarantee the security,” Khan said during a press conference at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore. “We have been informing the ICC on a daily basis about these threats which is not encouraging for us.
“Although our government has already given permission, these latest threats need to be taken seriously. Political parties like Shiv Sena [threatened us], now even the Congress has also said they will not let us play along with some other groups. Those are the ones creating agitation.”
It has been reported that Virbhadra, who heads the Congress government in the northern state, wrote to the Indian Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) saying that the match should not be played in Dharamsala. Virbhadra’s concerns were regarding the prevailing local sentiment in Himachal over recent terrorist attacks in Pathankot, which lies close to the Pakistan border near the intersection of the states of Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, and Jammu & Kashmir.
“We have told the ICC that there is only one step that the Indian government needs to take and that is to issue a public statement that they are ready to welcome Pakistan and ensure full security for our team, which hasn’t come as yet,” Khan said.
“We have already been given permission [to travel] and we want to come, but we need reassurance and they should give a statement that will create a sense of security among us. I spoke to the BCCI and they are giving us a private assurance, claiming that it’s all about internal politics, nothing else, and that Pakistan should come.
“But a public statement is important and it should come as there are threats and we can see them. We have written to the ICC that they should come forward and we’ve asked the Indian government to assure us and give a statement. If they won’t give the statement, then I see it’s very difficult to go to India. There is no deadline in making the decision but we will have to monitor till the end and can even pull out at eleventh hour.”
Pakistan are currently in Bangladesh, where they have already been eliminated from the ongoing Asia Cup. They are set to return to Lahore on March 5. Nisar said that a report about the team’s visit to India will be presented to the Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif after consulting with Khan.
Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo’s Pakistan correspondent. @kalson
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Source: ESPN Crickinfo